From mochileo’s adventures, solo trekking in the mountains, to excursions close to home with family, walking comes great for body and mind. Here are some reasons why you should start walking more and all the tips and basic kit to keep us dry, cool and comfortable as we explore natural landscapes.
How do you burn fat and improve your fitness by walking regularly?
Regular walking provides a wide range of health benefits, such as decreased body fat or improved metabolic efficiency.
Writer Kyle Boelte measured the effects on his body of a month of trekking, doing the Colorado route, which runs 782 km from Denver to Durango (originally published in Outside Magazine).
In 29 days Kyle reduced his body fat percentage from 13% to 5%; his resting heart rate dropped from 48 to 40 beats per minute, improving his aerobic capacity and, most impressively, he transformed himself into a “fat-burning machine”.
Before the crossing, Kyle was burning 66% fat and 34% carbohydrates when doing low-intensity exercise. His rates then changed completely, reaching an incredible 91% fat and 9% carbohydrate.
He also notes that Kyle chose a lower-carbohydrate diet than other long-distance hikers: “During the Colorado route, we just ate nuts, jerky, dried fruit and a single carbohydrate-rich meal a day, like macaroni and cheese for dinner.
You don’t have to complete an epic route to notice the benefits of walking.
Whether it’s a day of hiking in the countryside, walking to work or simply taking a walk during lunch break, walking regularly is fantastic for speeding up your metabolism and refreshing your mind.
We also recommend using the Slendertone abdominal belt during low-intensity walking. Scientific studies have shown that walking while toning can improve results by reducing waist size (Anderson, 2006).
This is because the central and abdominal muscles responsible for tightening the belly work with much greater intensity.
How can I gain in comfort and enjoyment with each adventure?
Footwear is the basis of any outdoor adventure.
For summer walks and walks along well-preserved routes, choose hiking shoes or light hiking boots, with flexible soles and breathable shovels.
For winter hiking you’ll need more protection and waterproofing (full grain leather shovels are the hardest).
For hiking on more rugged terrain and for routes where you carry a heavy backpack, choose hiking boots with harder, higher soles to provide better foot support and ankle support.
At any time of the year and for adventure, you need outdoor shoes with good shoes (to move through the mud) and a non-slip engraved sole (for a better grip on the rocks).
For a better fit, make sure you have plenty of room in front of your toes (feet expand as you walk). Also, your heels should be securely anchored to the heel supports (sliding them up and down will result in blisters).
Technical sports socks can also make a big difference. They pad the heel and toe of the foot and absorb and eliminate sweat. This keeps feet drier and minimizes the risk of chafing or blistering.
Use a layering system to stay dry, cool and comfortable at all times.
For most walks, the layering system should include an inner layer, a middle layer or a fleece and a waterproof jacket.
All layers will work together to insulate you from the elements while allowing sweat to vaporize and escape. They also make it easier to regulate body temperature.
The inner layers (wool, synthetic fibre or both) divert sweat outwards so that the skin remains dry. They are much more effective than a cotton T-shirt.
The middle layer or fleece isolates you, retaining heat and expelling sweat outwards.
The raincoats isolate us from the elements without preventing sweat from escaping from the layer system, keeping us dry and comfortable. However, keep in mind that not all raincoats cut the wind: always check the technical specifications.
Make sure your backpack is perfectly adjusted for better posture and comfort.
Regardless of your height and body constitution, these are the golden rules to make a good weight distribution inside the backpack:
- First of all, make sure your backpack is the right size for your back length (from the waist to the seventh cervical vertebra).
- Check that the waist strap rests comfortably and snugly on the waist bones. Most of the weight should fall on the waist, taking weight off the shoulders and spine.
- Pull the shoulder straps to bring the weight closer to the body and provide greater stability.
- Tighten the chest strap to pull the shoulder straps and give the arms maximum mobility.
- Large backpacks also incorporate lifting straps to give the backpack even more stability. Adjust to a 45° angle.
Here is a list of the basic things you need to spend a day in the countryside or in the mountains:
- Small or medium backpack
- Hiking boots or hiking shoes
- Walking socks
- Inner layer
- Middle layer or fleece lining
- Waterproof trousers
- Windbreaker jacket (down or synthetic)
- Cap (in the summit it can be cold, even in summer)
- Water bag or bottle
- Headlamp (and spare battery)
- Map and compass (you can’t just rely on a GPS for guidance)
- First aid kit
Add to the list these basic elements if you plan to camp one night:
- Sleeping bag
- Inflatable camping mat (with puncture repair kit)
- Camping gas and casserole
- Cooking utensils (cup, spoon, fork, and knife)
- Water purification tablets or water filter
Be prudent and don’t take unnecessary risks when you’re on a voyage.
Always take the first aid kit, the front end (with a spare battery) and the down, in case you have to spend more time outside than you had calculated.
If you need help or guidance, hire an experienced mountain guide or sign up for a course to sharpen your orientation and survival skills in nature.
This is my definition of hiking: A person (or a self-conscious robot) who explores his environment and his feet are on the ground. Like, dirt. And the grass.
Some might say it has to be difficult, have a certain elevation change, require a blah, blah, blah, blah. It literally doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you go out and do something you wouldn’t have done otherwise.
If you’re looking for a fun “cardiovascular” activity and want to exercise in a way that’s exciting, hiking is a great way to get your legs, feet and body used to strenuous activity.
You can choose your speed and difficulty, you can always find a way to find the right amount of challenge for you.