Hike Fit

Hike Fit

With autumn setting in, England takes on a new beauty, and there is no better time to get outside and get fit!

Many people think of hiking or walking as an easy option, or perhaps something for retirement, but as Caroline Sandry tells us – hiking is actually a challenging sport which can vastly improve your health, fitness and strength…….

Having always enjoyed nature and the great outdoors, I love heading off for a weekend of hiking up mountains followed by tasty rewards in great local Inns. Combining nature, food, hard exercise and meeting up with friends makes for a great break, without even mentioning all the fantastic clothing and gear you can treat yourself to (yes you really do need another pair of gore-tex boots, and that fab orange long sleeve active top!)

Hiking for Fitness

I was lucky enough to stay at a wonderful fitness retreat in Verbier Switzerland called Equilibrium and found out just how challenging hiking can be:

Each day we hiked for 4 to 6 hours through the most amazing scenery you can imagine – snow capped mountains, blue skies, pretty spring flowers and the greenest grass, all of which helped to take our minds off our thumping hearts and heavy legs! I wore a heart rate monitor and pedometer – see my results below –


Duration of hike

Calories burnt

Time spent in Fitness zone

Time spent in Fat burning zone

Average HR

Max HR

Steps taken

1 ‘assessment day’

1 hr 32



54 min




2 The first big hike

3 hr 56


2 hr 12

1hr 43




3 Straight up hill – the hardest day for me

3 hr 17


2 hr 26

51 min




4 The ‘Biggy’

5 hr 41


3 hr 36

1 hr 33




5 mostly flat, some running

3 hr 26


1 hr 02

2 hr 24




6 final assessment. Same route as day 1 pushed hard & ran

1 hr 00


0 hr 59

0 hr 1




I used Polar’s FT7 heart rate monitor, which gives you time spent in your fitness training zone, and your fat burning zone. £99.50 www.polarelectro.co.uk

The training effects of hiking

Hiking is a form of interval training, which mixes periods of high intensity work with moderate intensity recovery sessions. This type of training will torch the calories and fat, and also improve your fitness levels. Hiking uphill is fantastic for toning and strengthening your bottom and thighs, and if you walk with poles (Nordic walking) you will also strengthen and tone your upper body – particularly those horrible bingo wings! As hikes tend to take a good few hours it is great for building stamina which will reflect in your other sports or activities. After my week in Verbier, I not only lost a few pounds, but my fitness levels were definitely higher, and my tummy a little smaller!

The Kit

You will need a good pair of walking shoes or boots, (preferably waterproof) and a wind and waterproof jacket. Take plenty of food and drink with you – camelbaks are the best way to stay hydrated on a hike. Wear plenty of layers such as a vest, long sleeve top and a fleece so that you can change clothes as you warm up, and trousers with plenty of pockets for tissues, lip balm etc.

For more info on Equlibrium resort go to – www.equilibriumverbier.com

For more info on Nordic walking go to – www.nordicwalking.co.uk

And for more about where to hike in the UK and overseas, check out – www.walkingandhiking.co.uk