We all need to drink water regularly, as not only are we normally 50-65% water, but it is a vital part of the many processes and reactions that keep our bodies running smoothly.
The more “work ” we do the more water is lost to;
- Chemical reactions (creating energy and body metabolism)
- Breathing (gas exchange, and the bodies air conditioning system – cooling)
- Sweating (bodies air conditioning – cooling)
- Waste management – ( flushing the system via the urine)
Failing to drink enough to match the loss, will results in the onset of dehydration, characterised by;
- Nausea- no desire to eat or drink(common)
- Dizziness / some will even faint(common)
- Decreased urine output / Yellow coloured(always)
- Dry skin
- Unexplained excessive Lethargy(early)
- Headaches(very common)
- Aching stiff legs / slow recovery
- Confusion / Irritability
Monitor your Hydration
One of the best methods for measuring your hydration, is to note the frequency and colour of your Urine output.
- Most frequent and clear – well hydrated,
- Less frequently and yellow / dark yellow – getting dehydrated / Very dehydrated.
The best way I know to maintain a good intake of water while walking is to use a Drink Bladder System
Drink Bladders allow you to carry a large quantity of water in the correct position inside your pack *1, and make it easily accessible while your walking via the drinking hose, so you can take a sip every couple of minutes with out needing to stop.
Camelbak have a useful Hydration calculator tool on their website, which provides a “snapshot” estimate of your hourly water consumption.(clearly the amount will change depending on the activity and input)
Adequate Water Intake
When you are consuming an adequate amount of water to balance activity level then expect to feel;
- Full of energy
- Clear mind
- Increased urine output and colour clearing(adjust your water intake down when its clear to avoid over hydration.)
- No ill effects during or after activity like: headaches, tiredness, aching muscles.(combined with stretching)
Many people enjoy adding a flavour to their water in the form of Fruit Juice powders or instead of water go for the heavily promoted Energy Drinks / Sports Drinks designed for “athletes”
It is worth noting that all of these options tend to have considerable amounts of sugar added, and while there is no dispute that heavy work of hiking can burn these simple Carbohydrates with ease, high sugar also causes you to loose more water faster.
For me – a couple of leaves of mint, lemon balm or a bit of lemon juices..but mostly I just prefer water.
Resting after a long hard day, it is also wise to remember that Alcohol also dehydrates your body, so avoid drinking it to excess and always drink water with it, to avoid waking up dry and achy the next morning.*2
It is a good idea to always filter and purify all drinking water in the New Zealand Outdoors as it is impossible to define which water is safe and which is not
*1 Most modern hiking packs will have a Drink Bladder Sleeve already installed, so the bladder sits in the optimum balance position Low, centred and against your back. For older packs you can make your own port and “Sleeve.”
*2 A hangover, it is actually caused by a combination of alcohol poisoning(to much alcohol) and “dehydration”(alcohol makes your body loose water):-)
- A Guide to the Ministry of Health Drinking-water Standards
- for New Zealand, 2008.
- Human Anatomy and Physiology, Marieb
- Pathophysiology, Concepts of Altered Health States, Porth
- NSW Rural Fire fighters Pocket Book, How Dehydrated are you?