The app, Daily Water, lets you schedule reminders throughout the day, and sends a push notification with a nice little ‘ding’ to remind you that it might be time to take a swig. And when I say take a swig, I mean drink a pre-specified amount of water, usually one glass. The app then encourages you to log your intake throughout the day, and measure yourself against a daily goal that you can also choose (I chose 12 glasses per day, which would equal roughly 3 litres if you consume 250ml per glass).
The app also monitors your progress and plots it on graphs so you get a visual understanding of your drinking habits. I decided to try the app for two main reasons:
One, can I use technology to help me drink more water? Does it really work, and if so, how? Will I form new hydration habits, or will this simply be another excuse to be tethered to my mobile device?
Two, how does increased water intake make me feel and perform? Will improved hydration make me feel less sluggish, more alert and more productive?
Seven days later and I’ve learned a surprising amount about my water consumption habits.
1. What Gets Measured Gets Managed.
The phrase was originally used by business and management guru Peter Drucker, and it rings true when it comes to our drinking habits. The mere fact that I was deliberately measuring my water intake was enough to improve it. Creating a system of measurement around a goal is essential for its achievement. It brings a degree of focus and awareness that otherwise may not exist. In the fitness world personal trainers are often quick to establish a set of daily goals, and measurement of body weight, body composition, and other physiological yard sticks are an integral part of any fitness regime. Taking the conscious effort to measure my water intake was the first step in improving my hydration.
2. Water Bottles Are Essential.
If my WaterBar is Batman my water bottle is most definitely Robin – a trusty sidekick that may seem expendable from the outside but is essential to maintaining healthy levels of hydration. Not only does a water bottle provide me with a ready-made measuring container (at over 500ml I can measure 1 glass as around half the bottle), it also serves as a constant source of sipping as well as providing a powerful visual cue as it sits on my desk. I know that if I need to be drinking 3 litres per day, I probably need to be filling up my water bottle at least 4 times. My water bottle is to me now as little dogs are to Paris Hilton: essential.
3. Healthy hydration is best achieved with more than one method.
You don’t just need to drink water to maintain healthy hydration. It’s been written about a lot, but I found water based fruits to be a most welcome and delicious source of water. Watermelon, comprised of over 90% water, is a personal favourite, and is essential in any diet that prioritises a healthy water intake. And seeing as it’s been so hot out, I’ve been eating my fair share!
4. Water affects my mood dramatically.
When my hydration is good, I feel good. Simple as that. A glass of cool water in the morning energises me vastly more than a coffee, and I realised that my coffee consumption is much more out of habit than any real noticeable improvement in alertness and energy. I feel good when I am productive, and water helps to keep my mind in gear. I’m also prone to headaches and evening sluggishness, but both problems are becoming a thing of the past as I prioritise adequate hydration.
5. Association is a powerful thing.
Because my concentration for the past 7 days has been on water, I now associate thirst immediately with H2O. Many people I know will immediately reach for a diet coke or a juice when they get thirsty, but water is most definitely my go-to beverage throughout the day.
6. Pure is perfect.
I feel like I’m spoilt when it comes to water. I have access to a Virgin Pure WaterBar at work during the day, and I have one at home to cover the mornings and evenings. The experience of water is magnified tenfold just in the knowledge that I’m drinking the purest kind. It tastes untreated, fresh and cool. Our bodies are made up of 60% water, so it’s only logical that the quality of our water has a significant impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. I felt confident in the knowledge that I was giving my body the best, and it made me feel uplifted and positive. Water is central to our lives, and by increasing the quality of our water we are enriching our lives.
My conclusion is that whilst an app cannot force you to drink more water, this one does provide a timely reminder and urges us to become aware of our water intake throughout the day. It’s like a poke in the arm, and as long as we have a water bottle close at hand, it generally works. And for most people, myself most definitely included, that’s already a huge step in the right direction.
By Will Reynolds