In the UK, we are surrounded by countryside. However, with 80.9% of us living in cities and towns (according to the 2011 Census) we might not travel much outside our suburbs and towns.
Unfortunately, this means we are missing out. We have the Lake District, the Peak District, The Snowdonia National Park, The Black Country and the Fens. All of these provide excellent hiking, rambling and even mountaineering possibilities – which are also overlooked as incredible cardio workouts
The average 7 hour hike (let’s take the Snowdonia National Park, with a 1,802ft gain) could help burn 2,100 calories. That’s as much as a runner undertaking the London marathon would burn. So let’s look at what you can do to start exercising in the great outdoors.
Rules, like the Right of Way laws are in place – the laws governing ramblers’ rights on footpaths on private land, so that’s something to take into account. To aide individuals, organisations such as the Ramblers’ Association have setup groups, resources and online support to better help those wanting to start out hiking or rambling.
Remember you can see the great delights of Wordworth’s Lake District or Crabbe’s Norfolk Broads by following these rules. These visual delights – seen in the wild countryside, can be both awe inspiring and can leave wonderful memories. So why not think about hiking and rambling as a part of a healthy and active lifestyle?
What To Do Next
First things first, you need good footwear. It is the single most important thing just as it would be for jogging or running. You need excellent ankle support and you need a boot that will shock absorb the most demanding of trails.
The best thing to do is to visit your local mountaineering and hiking store (like Blacks) and ask the staff for help in choosing the right footwear. Once you have the footwear you’ll need some other bits and pieces. A day sack, a hydration pack (also known as a camel pack), a rain jacket and a fleecy jacket – you could buy a three-in-one jacket.
These bits along with a first aid kit, compass and a map of the area you’re hiking in are all invaluable starter items.
What Do You Want To Do?
Some people like to follow footpaths, some like to go off the beaten track and explore the wild ruggedness of the great outdoors. Do you want to climb, hike or ramble?
Some people think it’s all the same but it’s not. Mountaineering is rock climbing – it’s the act of scaling vertical or semi-vertical peaks with the use of harnesses and other equipment to challenge yourself to climb. Hiking is the act of walking flats and hills – this means walking up a mountain without the need for harnesses and such equipment. Rambling is the act of following footpath routes and exploring the countryside – safe in the knowledge there are signposts and gates to help you around.
Why not visit an indoor climbing centre, take a weekend break and explore some countryside. This way you can find out what you want to do and how you want to challenge yourself.
What The Experts Say
Hiking has been identified as a successful long-term format for continuous weight loss (Cudjoe et al, 2007). The moderate long-term successes of individuals using hiking, rambling and even mountaineering in a formulaic way to continue further weight loss and to build muscle has both positive and successful results (Reinhardt et al, 2008).
The research indicates that rambling and hiking has excellent weight-loss retention results. Research on the middle-age uptake or rambling in Scotland during 2001, illustrated that people with unhealthy lifestyles who adopt hiking as a major component of a new healthy lifestyle find weight loss (Hunt et al, 2001).
The cardio-based element of hiking or rambling means that it can achieve more during a sustained period than a short burst of running over one hour or a forty minute swim. This means that it is a moderate workout but has extensive cardio properties. Furthermore, this means it can be adopted by the young or elderly as an excellent ‘entry’ exercise and a booster to help people get back in shape.
The fact hiking can be taken up by older people and therein more disabled or obese persons as a ‘booster’ or ‘entry’ exercise means it is an incredibly moderate workout.
However, the length of a short walk between 3 to 5 hours long will likely be a 10 mile+ journey – during this time a lot more calories can be burnt whilst enjoying a cardio-based workout that isn’t too demanding.
Obviously this depends on the terrain. However, if you start on rambling paths (check out the rambler’s association website for details), you can identify easy routes and build up in both confidence and fitness. Thereby starting small but working up in both fitness and experience. So why not enjoy the great outdoors that the British Isles offer?