Hiking for fitness

I love walking or hiking, it's good for you physically and mentally. I'm going to break down why hiking is a great tool to keep your self in a healthy weight range. To start with, did you know that the best area to burn fat is within 50% to 70% of your heart rate max? What's your hear rate (HR) max you say? It's 220 beats per minute (bpm) minus your age. How do you work out the percentage?

0.5 x (your HR max) = x

0.7 x (your HR max) = y

My HR max would be 220-30 = 190. My best fat burning range is 95-133 not a super high HR is it! (0.5 x 190 = 95, 0.7 x 190 = 133)

You want to be working in this range if fat loss is your goal. Understanding ways to keep our selves healthy are really important and it's not rocket science. Being able to understand the science behind the benefits may get more of you out there so here we go. 

Why is this a good range? Because we are performing full body, load bearing movement. Brisk walking, jogging, cycling all engage large muscle groups. These large muscles use two main fuel sources, glycogen, which is glucose stored in your muscles, and fatty acids which are released from our energy storing adipose tissue stores. When we are doing intense exercise, the blood flow required to sustain oxygen to muscles, as well as cool us down means there is not adequate blood flow from your adipose tissue to fuel your muscles with fatty acids, which means glycogen stores are used. However when we are exercising at a moderate level, say the level you could hold a conversation at. Then there is optimal blood flow from adipose tissue, allowing utilisation of fatty acids by muscle to fuel exercise. (Disclaimer, this is a really simplistic view without taking into consideration the hormonal factors, if you want more info please e-mail or comment away, I can send you studies, direct your to books and explain to the best of my ability)


So what exercise can you do in this range? Fast walking, hiking, beach walking, gentle bike ride, a slow jog. All sounds pleasant right? Hiking really is a great option to squeeze in once a week if possible, not only does it get you into this HR range, it will also improve motor skills with some of the trickier hikes, as well as help you with some needed time out.

How often should we do this, really we should be exercising to some extent ever day, not because of weight, because it's good for you. People who exercise regularly are biologically younger than those who don't, the protection you receive from exercising moderately every day against many non-communicable diseases is really important. I know for many people there is a time factor, and that’s where higher intensity exercise is really useful, as you can smash out an exercise quickly if you don't have time to go for a hour long walk every day. High intensity also has its place in reducing total body mass, but be aware that includes losing lean muscle mass as well. 

Why else should you do it? Because you get to see your own back yard, you get to be social through activity, it’s typically low impact and good for your mental health. My two favourites around Perth are Eagle View and Serpentine, closer options include Bold park and Kings park. It's easy to google whatever is around you and see what's accessible. 

When we can fit it in, a vigorous walk has a strong place in our exercise regime. Another wonderful reason to chuck on your trainers and go for a brisk winter walk.