05 March 2012

Walk yourself fit

Taking a hike or going for a walk duirng your lunch hour are all ways to keep fit. FitnessDoc discusses the value of a pleasant, and possible, exercise routine.


Taking a hike or going for a walk duirng your lunch hour are all ways to keep fit. FitnessDoc discusses the value of a pleasant, and possible, exercise routine.

Q: Hiking

I am interested to know how hiking burns the same energy as jogging does? This past weekend I did a three hour hike and only felt out of breath when walking uphill or up the "stairs". When I try to jog I feel like I'm going to keel over and die after just a few minutes, and then I have to walk for a bit to catch my breath.

I love hiking and I’m happy that it apparently expends so much energy, but have to ask: if I do a hike every weekend will I actually lose weight, and is hiking considered cardio exercise, or does it just tone?

Expert:  No, not at the same rate. Running burns probably in the range of 13 to 16 kcal/min (and up to 22 kcal/min if you run as fast as a Kenyan!), whereas for walking, you're looking at 6 to 10kCal/min, depending on speed

A 60 min session burns maybe 50% more if you run. The key is that you can hike a lot longer than you run. A three hour hike burns maybe 6 kCal/min, and that's worth 1000 kCal, the equivalent of more than an hour of running. The overall result, then, is that hiking is better, purely from a calorie point of view. It's not as simple as that, of course. But the general idea is correct.

So yes, hiking will help, but you have to manage the other side of the equation which is diet. If that's not correct, then all the training in the world will be ineffective, so address this if you can, as well. If you're training hard, and nothing is happening, then it's definitely worth looking at diet.

Q:  Walking in my lunch hour

This may be a very silly question. However, I want to ask if I walk every day of the week during my lunch hour for 30 - 35 minutes at a stiff speed, is this sufficient enough for me as a 38 year old woman whose fitness level is below average? Do I need to increase the time or speed week by week, or carry on the way I do? Also would you recommend that I should put on a heart rate monitor device when walking? Any advice is much appreciated.

Expert: Definitely, yes. Anything you do over and above nothing is good for you. Will it meet your goals? Well, that depends on your goals! But to do those 30 minutes is what would be recommended, and it will have very clear health benefits - I can only encourage you to do it. In time, with fitness, you'll be able to increase the time and speed, but don't get ahead of yourself yet! Just keep doing what you are, build your fitness, and let your body tell you when to increase the time or speed.

As for a heart rate monitor, at this stage, I don't think it's really necessary. If you have it already, then sure, it is always good to measure and learn about your body and how it is doing. But I wouldn't invest just yet, get fit first and then cross that bridge later!

Q: Walking plan

I am starting to walk every morning hoping to get fit and lose weight. I am very overweight (100kg and 1.63 tall) and at the moment I am starting with walking for 30 minutes each day. Is this sufficient? After how long can I increase the amount of time that I walk? Is there a website showing a walking plan that I could follow? My dream would be to start jogging once I’ve lost weight and have become fitter. I am experiencing a lot of pain in my shins as I walk, is this normal for someone who has never exercised before?

Expert: It's perfect for a start. What you'll find is that your fitness will improve and the first thing that will happen, training-wise, is that you'll be able to go further in those 30 minutes than you did at the start. That's step 1.

Once that happens, then you can increase the time. Instead of doing 3km in 30 minutes, try 4 in 40, and gradually increase the time you spend training. Let fitness dictate this - you don't want to arrive home feeling spent and exhausted, so don't force that increase until you are ready. Aim for "invigorated" for now. There are a few walking programmes here, start with the first and work up to where your feet take you!

More info:

Ten exercise motivators

Visit the Hiking Centre for tips

(Joanne Hart, Health24, March 2012)




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