With all the focus on crash diets and gym regimes, it’s an often-ignored fact that if you find someone who walks a lot as part of their normal routine, the chances are that they’re certainly not overweight. In fact, walking is widely recognised by specialists to be one of the best forms of exercise around. It doesn’t put undue stress on joints or muscle groups, and particularly if you’re just starting out on the road back to fitness, it can be the perfect way to ease yourself into a new exercise regime.
Walking and Hiking: The Easy Way to FitnessMost healthcare professionals recommend that, if possible, you should try and walk for twenty minutes, twice a day, and if you can manage to fit that kind of regular walking into your daily regime then that’s fantastic. If you keep it up for just a few weeks you will really start to notice all your major muscle groups toning up and you’ll also notice some benefits in terms of weight loss. However, this won’t work for everyone: if you have to drive to work or if a longer walk doesn’t fit in with your commute in some other way then clearly you’re going to have to find some other way of stretching your legs.
If you can’t fit regular short walks into your schedule, then the next best thing is to try and ensure that when you get the chance, you go for longer hikes or treks instead. If you live in the country then this can be as simple as going for an evening stroll or making time at the weekends for a good walk in the area. Of course, if you live in a city then your options in this regard are likely to be a bit more curtailed, but you might be surprised by how many possibilities are available.
For example, many towns and cities, like Leeds in the UK and Hamburg in Germany, have created linked green areas which mean you can walk for miles without even realising you’re in the city at all. Others, like London, offer large city parks for you to walk in. However, even if your town or city isn’t well-served with these kind of amenities, and even if you don’t have private transport to get you out into “real” countryside, it’s worth looking online to see if there are any active walking or trekking groups in your area. Typically, these will exist to share the costs of weekend transport out to various good trekking locations and are a great way to meet like-minded people as well as to get fit.
Many of the more adventurous groups will also get together to organise overseas travel a few times a year, which will allow the chance not just to increase your fitness levels, but also to test yourself against some of the best treks in the world. So if you’ve gradually increased your fitness with regular short walks or weekend hikes in the countryside, and would like to take things to the next level, then you could head to Peru to trek the Inca Trail, or go trekking in Argentina. RealWorld and other specialist operators regularly work with walking groups to organise walking holidays in places like South America, which offer some of the most superb hiking you can imagine and give you the chance to get fit, enjoy great company and broaden your horizons – all at the same time.
So when you’re planning your exercise regime, by all means work in some time at the gym or some punishing running schedule, but don’t ignore the benefits of a simple walk now and again! And if you can fit in some longer hiking and trekking as well, you’ll start to see the benefits in no time.