A ton of our country has terrain that rises and falls. These rises in elevation are normally referred to as hills. Are there walking up hills benefits? Should you seek out more uphill paths for your walking workouts?
Benefits of hill walking
Conquering a hill or several can be quite rewarding. Not only will it bring what is often an easy exercise up to moderate to intense, depending on the hill, but it also forces your body to adapt to different angles. Your muscles- all the one used in walking, will work harder. You will notice your heart rate and breathing may increase significantly. Let’s list the most common good points about walking up more hills.
- Calorie burns increase by 20-50% as you tread up a hill.
- Going uphill will make your workout more versatile adding some intensity.
- Walking various terrains works various muscle groups in new ways, making them stronger.
- Hilltops may give you new views. One of the many benefits of walking is taking in the atmosphere.
- Differing angles of walking are one of the best ways to strengthen your core.
Difficulties of walking uphill
As many know, going up hill is harder than walking a flat surface. If you are new to this exercise routine, you may find walking uphill raises your heart rate too much. I’ll cover more about max heart rate in another post, but if you want more info now check it out here.
Walking up or down hill can also challenge your balance, core strength and equilibrium. If you happen to have knee or back difficulties the extra strain on your joints and muscles from going up hill can sometimes cause pains. If you have difficulties use caution, perhaps invest in braces and definitely take them as slow as you need to.
Should you just avoid hills?
In some cases you might want to just find ways around the steepest hills or harder terrain. After all, this workout is walking, not hiking. Unless it’s very hot or humid you shouldn’t be dripping with sweat after a walk, but a few hills later and you might start see it trail off of you.
For your everyday walk, I’d recommend avoiding the steeper hills. Gentle rolling hills are more than enough to keep your heart rate varied a bit and get the most out of your walks.
So, I don’t say avoid hills entirely. Just be more selective about what hills are worth your energy and time on a given day.
What do I use to help me on hills?
I live in the Ozarks. On my walks have scant few completely level walking paths. So, when I first starting walking here, compared to fairly flat Louisiana terrain, I had a good bit of adjusting to do. My posture, believe it or not, was one of the first things I had to work on to make hills easier on my body. I’m naturally a pretty slouchy person. Slouching while walking uphill makes your balance a little rougher and doesn’t allow your core to get as strong as it needs to become.
I also found I used various supplements that helped me build endurance easier. Hills are definitely an endurance challenge.
When I first moved up here, it took my body almost a year to grown accustom to the elevation. I found myself needing knee braces on occasion, especially during colder months. Speaking of cold, I also acquired good gripping shoes for walking on slick surfaces or adhesive grips I could attach to my less gripping shoes.
I’ll post reviews of these things I’ve mentioned here in the future. For now, just know it may take you a while to accustom yourself to walking up hills. If you happen to need the assistance for equipment that is absolutely fine.
Are they worth it?
Overall, I would say yes. Hills can be a pain in the backside, but they add diversity to what could otherwise be a low calorie burning unchallenging workout. I like to mix things up to keep my body guessing. It all depends on what you want to get out of your walking workouts. Conquer those hills or take the plains path. Whatever you do just keep walking.
Can’t wait to see you strolling along,