A Beginner’s Guide To Walking & Hiking
17 April 2019
As the clocks go forward the start of spring often motivates us to get outside and make the most of the lighter evenings and warmer weather. Be it exploring the town, strolling along the sea front to the Victorian pier, or the beautiful hill top sea views from Poets walk, Clevedon has a variety of walks suitable for all ages and abilities.
Walking is often disregarded as a form of physical exercise, but is one of the most accessible ways to get fitter and healthier, whilst being completely free. NHS England recommends adults to undertake 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise, which is around 20 minutes per day – easy peasy! Including a regular brisk walk, approximately 3mph, in your daily routine of 10 minutes or more counts towards your weekly target and will increase your aerobic fitness. This could be as simple as power-walking to the office in the mornings. This can lead to many health benefits such as a healthier heart, weight loss and increased muscle tone.
In our modern day society sedentary and desk-based lifestyles are commonplace often leading to poor postures, aches and pains. For these reasons, at Willow Chiropractic Clinic we encourage our patients to add walking into their daily habits allowing their bodies to move in the way they were designed to and reduced the affects of prolonged sitting.
As with any form of exercise it is important to work within your limits and take sensible measures to prevent injury. Chiropractor Pippa Seaton from our Clevedon clinic has some tips we hope you find helpful.
1. Choosing the right footwear is essential before you start walking.
Blisters make any walk miserable, so ensure hiking boots or trainers for less challenging walks are well worn in. Ankle injuries are one of the most commonly seen walking injuries. On rough, uneven terrain make sure you have a good ankle-supportive walking boots to reduce your risk of injury.
2. Don’t rush into it!
Walking is an aerobic exercise that needs stamina and training. Start gently, increasing your distances gradually. Don’t get caught out by changes in gradient, even gentle slopes can change your breathing and heart rate quickly.
3. It’s not all about your legs.
Whilst strong leg muscles will help you, your trunk (back, side and abdominal muscles) are key in getting them moving, giving you more forward momentum power and balance when walking.
4. Squeeze those Glutes!
It is very common for people to have underactive gluteal (buttock) muscles and is a common problem when dealing with lower back and knee pain. Make sure when you push into the floor with your feet to move forwards you are activating that squeeze in your buttocks, helping to protect your lower back.
5. Think about your posture.
Commonly when walking for a long period, uphill and with a backpack you can stoop forward and hunch your shoulders. Try to stand up straight and relax your shoulders, drawing your shoulder blades down and away from your ears, relaxing your upper trapezius muscles.
6. Always be prepared.
Weather and conditions can be changeable when walking and hiking in mountains or by the coast. On longer walks wear layers always take a waterproof and some sun protection, just in case.
7. Hydration is key.
The body needs approximately 2 litres of water a day; with activity you should increase this intake. Ensure you have one or two cups of water before you start and continue drinking throughout your walk. As a rule of thumb for every 1-hour of hiking you should allow ½ litre of water. Be aware in hot conditions you will need to increase this and should consider an electrolyte drink, to replace the essential salts you will sweat out. Continue drinking after your hike to re-hydrate.
8. Remember to include a cool down period.
Light stretches and slowing down your pace towards the end of your walk will help prevent later aches and pains from lactate build up during exercise.
Walking outdoors is not only physically beneficial, but has the ability to help our mental well-being. Mind a charity for mental health tells us being outside in green spaces and around nature can improve our mood, reduce stress and feelings of anger, and improve our self-esteem. As well as giving you time to relax alone, walking can also be a great way of making new connections. There are local ramblers groups available in Clevedon to join, and walking in a group can be an excellent way of catching up with friends whilst staying active and encouraging a healthier lifestyle.
Pippa’s Favourite Local Walks
- Poets Walk is a circular walking path and a regular walking spot for Clevedon locals and dog walkers. A local nature reserve with wonderful sea views over the Bristol challenge, this is a place not be missed.
- If you’re looking for a bigger challenge try looking across the Bristol channel to one of Pippa’s favorite places to hike when she was training to become a chiropractor in South Wales, the Brecon Beacons. Peaks such as Pen-Y-Fan offer spectacular views, sunrises and sunsets. Pen-Y-Fan has many different paths up to the peak allowing for all levels of walkers and hikers to enjoy it.
As with any activity if you have any pre-existing medical conditions make sure you ask your GP’s advice about your suitability to exercise.
If you have any questions or have some fitness goals and would like to talk to Pippa or one of our chiropractors, call us on 01275 338711 and come in for your free consultation. Willow Chiropractic is located on Old Church Road in Clevedon and our aim is to help you live life to the full.