Julie Andrews: fitter then you think
Hiking — or a nice walk in hilly countryside — is officially good for your health, according to research from Austria where they know a bit about hills.
Hiking downhill may be particularly helpful for people who are overweight or have not exercised for a while to get back into the exercise habit. It appeared to specifically lower blood glucose levels, reducing the risks or effects of diabetes. 'Walking downhill may be a starting mode for sedentary people to begin with exercise,' said Dr. Heinz Drexel, of the Voralberg Institute in Feldirch, Austria.
Hiking may also affect cholesterol levels, Drexel said. Hiking uphill reduced triglycerides, an important component of overall cholesterol. In addition, levels of so-called 'bad cholesterol,' low-density lipoprotein (LDL), were lowered by hiking in either direction.
The result of the study, carried out on a steep mountain in the Alps, surprised the researchers. They had assumed that hiking downhill would have little beneficial effect. It was not the case.
'Many groups are trying to find an equivalent in a gymnasium and fitness centers but it is more fun to do it in nature,' said Dr Drexel.
All together now: the hills are alive, with the Sound of Music. Edelveiss and lederhosen optional.
Page created on November 8th, 2004
Page updated on December 1st, 2009