When you do a long distance walk, you learn a lot about hydration. Hydration is what we used to call drinking, but it’s a lot more complicated. Drinking is taking a liquid into your mouth and swallowing. Hydration involves what you drink, when you drink, how much you drink, and even what you drink out of. Who knew drinking could be this complex?
When I grew up, you drank water. With hydration, water is not good enough; you need uber water. The choices are mind boggling. There are sport drinks, energy drinks, vitamin drinks, carbonated drinks, non-carbonated drinks, flavored drinks, even drinks that help with alertness and motor skills. Different activities require different types of water. With hydration, you need to do research before you buy your drink.
When I grew up, you drank when you were thirsty. With hydration, drinking when you are thirsty is not good enough. You need to drink before you are thirsty. If you wait until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
When I grew up, you did not worry about how much you drank per day. With hydration, quantity is very important. In fact, a whole industry has developed of bottles that keep tabs on how much you drink each day, and not just bottles… now there are mobile apps! Apps to help you keep tabs on how much you are drinking, apps that send reminders to drink more and apps that sound alarms when you are under-hydrated (think iDrate). In the olden days, drinking was a pleasure. With hydration, drinking is an obligation.
When I grew up, you drank water from a fountain, a thermos or a canteen. It didn’t seem to matter what you drank from. With hydration, what you drink out of is very important. There are features to look for that enhance your drink –like infusers, filters, and refrigeration assemblies — and features to avoid — like bottles with BPAs — a harmful industrial chemical. There are transparent water bottles, opaque bottles, ergonomically shaped bottles, bottles with straws attached, bottles with hooks and handles, plastic bottles, metal bottles, glass bottles, even soft bladder bottles that fit in a backpack. CamelBak, the best known hydration backpack system, has reservoirs, bite valves and bite valve covers, filters, filter adapters, tubes, tube traps, and cleaning kits. With hydration, you need a user’s manual to figure out how to use the container you drink from.
Between types of drinks, how to manage intake and containers to drink out of, hydration is a multi-billion dollar business. Drinking wasn’t just simpler, it was a lot less expensive.
Of course, hydration has a flip side — elimination. There hasn’t been much change in elimination over the years — but that is the topic for a different blog post.