With the summer holidays in full swing, many people struggle to incorporate exercise on their family holidays. So how about an activity all the family can enjoy, without it feeling like a chore? Taking a walk alone can be great for clearing your head or blowing off some steam but it also provides a great opportunity to bond with friends and family—far away from electronics and other distractions at home. Even better, you set a powerful example because when they see you reaping in the benefits of walking, they’ll be encouraged to walk more, too

A hiking holiday could be a great way to spend quality time as a family and has plenty of other perks: nice views, fresh air, exploring new places, and the sounds and smells of nature.

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There are many health benefits to walking too, not least that you could fairly easily burn around five hundred calories a day with it. Walking is a low impact exercise suitable for the majority of people and it's good for you, too. Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can:

  • Lower your risk of heart disease

  • Improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels

  • Help get longer and better quality sleep

  • Boost bone density, since walking is a weight-bearing exercise

  • Build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs

  • Strengthen your core

  • Improve balance

  • Help control your weight

  • Boost your mood. Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that.

Hiking top-tips

If you are new to hiking, you can get more out of your experiences with these pointers and fitness-boosting top tips.

Start slow. A short, local hike is best for beginners. Gradually work up to trails with hills or uneven terrain.

Prepare.  Make sure you carry adequate water, energy boosting snacks and go prepared (sun cream, hats, wet weather gear etc) for the predicted weather.

Adapt your hike to your companions. If you are hiking with younger family members perhaps have a fun destination in sight at the end for motivation such as a local attraction or play area.

Use poles. Digging into the ground and propelling yourself forward pushes your upper body muscles to work harder and gives you a stronger cardio workout.  You might even want to check out Nordic walking.

Head for the hills. Even a small hill will intensify your heart rate and burn extra calories. A 5% to 10% incline can lead to a 30% to 40% increase in calorie burn.

Bump it up. Uneven terrain can work muscles while improving balance and stability.

Weigh yourself down. Stock your day pack with extra weight. (Water’s a good option.) A 10- to 15-pound day pack can boost your calorie burn by 10% to 15% while strengthening your lower back muscles.

You can walk anywhere, anytime and for any duration to reap the benefits. Whether you need a solution to a problem at work or you’re looking for some time to collect your thoughts, walking gets your creative juices flowing in all areas. You don’t have to be tackling the Three Peaks to enjoy the feel-good powers of walking.  Simply head somewhere you enjoy and get back to basics – whether its rivers, forests, mountains or beaches.

So whether it’s hiking with the family or taking the dog out, walking is one of our most basic locomotive functions.  So get out there and enjoy it!


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