Sunday, May 1, 2011

Combining Two Great Exercises: Hiking and Trail Running

For those of you in the Boston area check out the various hiking and/or trail running courses at the Blue Hills in Milton. My new trail course is on the Skyline Trail that is a quick 3 mile course that starts out Blue (easy) and turns to a Blue/Red which is a bit more challenging because of the uphill climbs. Added a ltitle bit of running this morning at certain points througout the course. This is a great way to slowly get your legs and cardiovascular system back in shape if your thinking about getting into race shape for a 5k or 10k race this summer (which someone is). This specific course usually takes an hour when I'm just hiking and for my stride length that equals about 6000 steps but that number was reduced a bit today because of the increase in stride length when running (5350 steps). The other good news is that you have already completed 60% of your total # of steps needed for the day (if 10,000 is your daily goal like me). Even with less steps you end up expending more calories (depending on total time) because of the shift from moderate to vigorous intensity = higher calorie expenditure/min. - will check that though. If your looking for how much time to put into exercise like this - various national agencies recommend 150 minutes/wk. of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 min/wk. of vigorous activity. Only 5% of the population in this country however are reaching that vigorous range each week! I think of moderate-intensity as being able to carry on a conversation but still sweating and vigorous as being more challenging in terms of trying to talk because of your elevated heart rate. Here is a list of the benefits either way you choose to go and more importantly get out and give it a will love it!

The Benefits of Regular Physical Activity (from Len Kravitz, Ph.D)

Improved body composition (my favorite)
Improve weight control
Improved coronary blood flow
Improved cardiac function
Improved endothelial function
Improved high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
Improved glucose metabolism
Improved insulin sensitivity
Improved autonomic nervous system tone
Improved psychological well-being
Reduced blood pressure
Reduced systemic inflammation
Reduced blood coagulation
Reduced abdominal adiposity
Reduced triglyceride levels
Reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
Reduced stress, anxiety and depression

Warburton, D.E., Nicol, C.W., & Bredin, S.S. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 174(6), 801-809.

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