Walking for Fitness
We all know that walking can be fun and revitalising, but it also provides an excellent form of exercise contributing to your overall happiness and wellbeing. Regular walking, like all 'aerobic' exercise, can have a dramatic effect on cardiorespiratory fitness or 'aerobic power'. Regular exercise carried out three times a week for 30 minutes or more at the right intensity will result in increases of aerobic power (Davison & Grant, 1993)
The intensity of walking for fitness benefits varies according
to the age and fitness of the individual, but generally, 'brisk is
best'. A simple way to work out how briskly you should walk
is to aim to walk "fast without overexertion". You should just about be
able to hold a conversation while you are walking - the 'talk test'.
For the more technically minded, you should aim for the 'training zone'. To calculate this, take your age away from 220. Then try to walk so that your heart rate is at least 45% of this figure. So for example a 40 year old would be aiming to have a heart rate of at least 81 beats per minute (220 - 40 x 0.45).
Even 10 minute brisk walks can increase fitness, provided that they are brisk enough. One study at Loughbrough University found that women walking continuously for 30 minutes 5 days a week had almost identical increases in fitness as women who split their 30 minutes into three 10 minute walks (Murphy & Hardman, 1998). Perhaps even more encouraging was that the women who walked for 3 x 10 minutes lost more weight and reported greater decreases in waist circumference than those who walked for 30 minutes. Brisk is best - walk fast without overexertion.
Walking for weight control
Control of body weight occurs when the calories taken in as food are balanced with the calories expended through walking and other physical activities. The key issue for weight control is to maximise the total volume of calories used, (at any intensity) and to combine this with healthy eating. Walking one mile (1.6km) can burn up at least 100kcal (420kJ) of energy and walking two miles (3.2km) a day, three times a week, can help reduce weight by one pound (0.5kg) every three weeks. Walking also alters fat metabolism so that fat is burned up instead of sugars, helping to reduce weight.
You can also find more information on walking for health reasons here.
Fuel your body
"What should I eat and drink to best cope with altitude?" (Katherine Flow, Trail 2006).
There are lots of nutrional theories, but they all face the same practical mountaineering obstacles at altitude: you can't carry what you ideally need, and you feel to queasy to eat even if you could. As long as you drink plenty (at least 3 litres during the day), the best advice is to take as much as you can of the food you like - even if that's deep fried Mars bars. "It's better to have stuff you know you'll be able to eat than nutritionally correct stuff you won't". Hot food vs. cold food? Which has got more energy?
To get energy from food, it must be digested. However, hot or cold it is when eaten, all food is digested at body temperature (37 deg C). The heat in hot food does have an extra calorific value, but it's not accessible as energy for exercise, and it's not as much as you think. Consider a 500g meal at 60 deg C. The temperature difference between you and your dinner is 23 deg C. Multiply that by the 500g of the meal, and you get the calorific value of your meal's warmth: 11,500 calories or 11.5 kcal - about the same as a quarter of a Jaffa Cake.
Please note: The advice offered above should be only used afor general guidance only. Before taking part in any form of exercise programme, please consult your doctor first.