Walking is one of the finest forms of exercise for adults. It is easy on the joints, does not require any special equipment and you can do it in practically any setting. For people who are initially starting out an exercise program it is also an excellent way to progress in their goals of achieving improved heath and well-being.
For those people who are more advanced in their walking program and who would like more of a challenge, hill walking is an excellent way to take their fitness to the next level.
Before starting any hill walking program it is always important to first check with your doctor and get approval for your new exercise program. Once you get the go ahead you can start your hill walking program.
Walking up hills will build strength and give your heart an excellent workout. Hill walking is also a safe way to ramp up the intensity of your activity
Many sports injuries occur because people push themselves to speeds to which their bodies are not accustomed. Some of these injuries arise out of the mistaken belief that achieving greater intensity demands an increase in speed. While this is true when training on flat surfaces, as in the case of accelerating from a slow jog too a rapid sprint, it is not the same thing when comparing intensity levels on flat and inclined surfaces. Walking for 100 yards up a 30° incline is a more intense workout than walking at the same speed on flat ground because gravity is always resisting the movement.
By walking up hills you can raise the intensity of your exercise without having to increase your speed. This translates to improved fitness without a significant increase in the risk of injury.
When starting your hill walking program you should try to find a hill that is about 50 yards long and has an incline of about 20°. This is something you can just judge and does not require any careful measurement. Starting out once a week you should try to do one to five repetitions of this hill at whatever speed feels comfortable for you.
Walk up the hill and then if you feel that you need to stop, feel free to take all the time you need to recover. Because this is higher intensity exercise you do not need to worry about stopping or starting.The benefits of higher intensity training do not require the continuous movement of aerobic training. When you feel recovered, walk down the hill and then, if you are able, do another repetition. Walking down the hill will also force your muscles to work as gravity will be pulling you down faster than the speed at which you are walking, forcing you to adjust.
The goal should be anywhere from one to five repetitions up to twice a week. People who are only able to do one repletion on their first attempt should not feel disheartened. Think of this training program as a progression. Eventually you will be able to do 5 repetitions but it is important to take your time and build up in a natural way. The idea is to introduce intensity into your walking program. You will find that over the course of weeks and months your body will adapt very well to this new challenge and you will take your fitness to a new level.