Walking is one of the most popular forms of exercise, and for good reason. It’s something almost everyone can do, it doesn’t require any special skill, you don’t need much equipment other than a good pair of shoes, and you can do it almost anywhere at any time! For those on a weight loss plan and a tight schedule, walking makes sense as a regular form of exercise.
But you might have heard that uphill walking is preferred. Is this true? And what’s the big difference?
Primarily, those who tout the benefits of uphill walking are referring to calorie burn. It is true that you can burn about 10 percent more calories when you choose a hilly route, versus a completely flat one. That’s because walking uphill requires greater effort from muscles, so this translates into greater energy expenditure. Plus, when you walk uphill, you target hamstrings, calves, and glutes (the backs of your legs). So a hilly route can work great for toning your muscles.
On the other hand, the downhill part of your route isn’t exactly a waste of your time! And when you do it right, walking downhill is also a valuable exercise. This movement will require more effort from the front muscles of your legs – your quads and lateral hip stabilizers – helping to tone and strengthen them. When you hit the downhill part of your route, be careful not to give into gravity and forget about form. This is a time to carefully monitor your movement to build strength in those muscles and prevent injuries.
So, yes, a hilly walking route is definitely more beneficial than a flat course. But, as with all forms of exercise, we caution you not to dive into a more difficult routine too passionately. Take it easy at first, and don’t push yourself harder than feels comfortable. And of course, watch your form to prevent injuries, and take it easier on days that you’re very sore.
To discuss your fitness and weight loss plans in more detail, call us to schedule an appointment. We can review your plans and help you decide upon safe and attainable goals.