Reaching my Garmin Vivoactive 4S Hydration Goals
There is an awful lots of writing out there in the world about the importance of drinking enough water. Opinion seems divided on just how much the right amount is, with accusations of myths and myth-busting abounding, going back and forth every year or two. I’ve always tried to be fairly aware of how much I drink, and I go through phases of trying to drink ‘enough’. These have ranged from pretty successful to leaving me needing to pee every 10 minutes. It’s fair to say the results have been mixed, but I do generally have a better sense of well-being when I’m drinking more water. It’s just one less health factor you need to worry about. When I find myself feeling low or under the weather, I’m trying to adopt a habit of asking myself ‘Have you slept enough? Have you eaten enough? Have you drunk enough?’ If the answer to any of these questions is no, I may be part way to an explanation of why, in that moment, I’m not feeling my best. It won’t necessarily fix any underlying problems, but it gives me a sense of why I might be feeling worse, and something achievable to work on.
One thing I don’t really do consistently is actually track my fluid intake. I tend to fall into the pattern of not drinking that much during the way, exercising and sweating loads, then guzzling gallons of water in the evening to try and make up. Then I need to pee in the night, and get a worse night sleep as a result. All in all not an ideal situation.
Enter my new Garmin Vivoactive 4s watch. This comes not only with a drinking monitoring function, but with the tantalising promise of tailored drinking recommendations. Keen to make the most of the watch’s myriad features, I thought I’d give it a go.
So what actually is it?
The Vivoactive 4S comes with a Hydration tracker widget (as do a lot of other Garmin smartwatches). The widget itself is pretty self-explanatory: you can add amounts in three size options (mine are 250ml, 500ml, and 750ml), you have a running total displayed in the middle, and a progress bar towards your target filling up around the outer face of the watch. It also has a satisfying little water graphic for when you reach your total. So far, so simple. This is a pretty basic feature, akin to apps I’ve used in the past. For instance, I once used one that grew a plant as the progress bar. Pretty cute, but also pretty guilt-inducing when you forget to fill it up/drink and your little plant fades away!
What’s clever about the Garmin Hydration tracker is that is syncs and responds to the exercise you log. So if you go out for an hour’s run, it will estimate how might you need to drink to make up for this, and add it on to your day’s total. Pretty neat, and as someone who always sweats to a frankly gross extent (especially in the hot Australian summer), very handy!
Reaching my targets
To get a real sense of how well the app worked, both in terms of motivating me to drink, and in terms of accurately estimating my needs, I decided to put it to the test. Supposedly it takes at least 14 days to forge a habit, so I went for reaching my Hydration Tracker goal every day for two weeks. I was honestly a bit skeptical going in, but there were some surprising results.
Perhaps the most surprising was that it made me realise how much I already drink. I never go anywhere without a water bottle, and even sat at my desk at home I drink from a big 1 litre bottle. Tracking my intake made me notice that I do actually drink quite a lot.
It also confirmed some of my suspicions though. My intake is heavily weighted towards the afternoon and evening. No wonder I get up in the night when more than half of my drinking is in the evenings! This is partly because it’s when I’m exercising, but it definitely made me more aware of the need to drink in the mornings. It makes sense to up your intake then to give you a good start to the day. So it did help me focus more on evening out my drinking (no pun intended), so I’m drinking more consistently throughout the day.
The real draw of the Garmin Hydration Tracker is the responsive targets. But just how responsive are they? Well, in my experience, it varies. Sometimes the recommendations feel pretty on point, others they’re a bit out of the blue. When the suggestion is pretty much the same for a 10k run on a hot day as for a 5k walk on a cold one, it does make you wonder how intelligent it really is. I sweat so much more in one than the other, even if the timings aren’t always hugely different. But the tracker claims to analyse sweat loss based on exertion and ambient temperature, and for the most part it seems to get it right. It can be a little frustrating when you think you’re nearly at target, and then you come back from a run and another 750ml gets added on, but when you realise this is easy to drink, you can understand why it’s there.
So how did it go?
Overall, I actually found it pretty easy to stick to my target. This is usually starting at 2100ml, but can get as high as 2800ml depending on my exercise. It’s an easy target to ‘cheat’ with: if it’s getting towards the end of the day and you’ve not met your goal you can just down a pint of water and there you are. But this kind of defeats the point. Taking a more consistent approach, spreading my intake across the day and then topping up post-exercise, really does seem to have benefited me. I often get headaches in the hours after exercising, but now I’m drinking more these don’t seem to be as much of an issues. It has to be said that there are lots of factors that might influence this, most notably where I am in my menstrual cycle. The real test will be how I feel doing this over the course of a few months. Drinking across the day could also be helping me feel better during my runs – good hydration is an important performance factor.
Is it worth it?
In one word: yes! I’ve noticed a difference to how I’m feeling on a day-to-day basis, and feel more confident that I’m giving my body what it needs to feel its best, both during exercise and at rest. Should you buy the Vivoactive 4S just for this feature? Absolutely not. But it is a great bonus on top of the many other great features of the watch. If you’re trying to take a more holistic approach to your fitness, it certainly sweetens the deal.
Despite my early skepticism, this is definitely a goal I will be keeping up. It’s weirdly pleasing to have a target that’s so easy to achieve – even on days when you won’t achieve much else – and it’s making me feel better and brighter in myself, and my fitness.
So if you’re trying to put your wellness first, and want to feel you’re giving yourself the good foundation you need, give hydration tracking a go. Even better, make the most of your Garmin smartwatch and achieve some targets that really response to you and your body. I don’t think you’ll regret it!
Do you track your water intake? Is hydration about health or fitness for you? It’s easy to forget what a difference it can make to your general wellness, and to your rnning, but it’s such an eay win one you get into the habit. Have you got any hydration tips or tricks? Please do share them in a comment!