Andrew Gee was awarded a summer bursary to work with Dr Hackett at Liverpool John Moores University on the project 'Investigating the hydration status of recreational walkers' to measure the extent to which dehydration is likely as a consequence of a ‘day’s walking’. More understanding of this is vital to enable better advice to be given to those setting out on a long walk. Walking is one of Britain's most popular pastimes, and is one which can be prolonged, take place in severe conditions and require much exertion. Dehydration is a possible consequence especially perhaps in older people for whom the thirst response is blunted, and can lead to accidents and misjudgement.
In order to give accurate results, a group of middle aged people who enjoy walking were asked to undertake a monitored 11 mile walk. Andrew was responsible for assessing them both before and afterwards. This included testing Haematocrit, haemoglobin concentration, blood glucose concentration, height, weight, body composition (fat and water), urine composition (specific gravity, sodium and potassium concentration), cognitive performance and reaction times.
Speaking of his experiences, Andrew said:
"Our results were rather mixed, but I found the whole experience fascinating, and it has encouraged me to look into research options – possibly in industry – as I found carrying out the experiments so much more enjoyable than my often over-crowded classroom experiments. I believe that my practical and analytical skills have improved as a result of taking part in the project, and I’m now considering continuing on to do a Master’s degree when I qualify next year.
Since making this comment, Andrew has graduated with an upper second class degree, and been awarded the Yakult Prize for being the best Nutrition student of 2008.