Bushwalk your way to a better body

Bushwalk your way to a better body

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Online weight loss coach Andrew Cate shows how taking your exercise routine off track has benefits for the mind and body.

Online weight loss coach Andrew Cate shows how taking your exercise routine off track has benefits for the mind and body.

Bushwalking and weight control
Apart from being a very enjoyable way to exercise, bushwalking is a fantastic fat burner. There are many ways that bushwalking can help with weight management, including:

  • Bushwalks tend to be longer in duration than a normal exercise walk, helping you to burn a significant amount of kilojoules. You may burn even more kilojoules depending on the weight of supplies in your backpack.
  • Due to the hills and uneven terrain, bushwalking may burn kilojoules at a higher rate compared to a typical outdoor walk. Your thighs, butt and calves will also get a good workout.
  • Uneven terrain also helps to target the stabilising muscles of your torso, especially the abdominal core. This promotes good posture, and may help to prevent injury, meaning your exercise program remains consistent.
  • The experience of walking in a different and pleasant location helps to keep things new and interesting, making it easier to stick to an exercise program.
  • Spending time outside in open spaces can rejuvenate the mind and can help to control stress, which may also reduce comfort eating.

The proven benefits of bushwalking
There is increasing recognition that the environment (both developed and open spaces) plays an important role in constraining or facilitating walking for health and recreation.

A report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare examined existing research on the importance of the surrounding environment on our health. The report stressed the importance of access to "green space", natural green spaces such as bushland, parks, grasslands, and countryside immediately adjoining urban areas.

The researchers found that easy access to large open spaces with attractive features such as trees, water and bird life was associated with higher levels of walking. People using these green spaces were three times more likely to achieve the recommended level of physical activity compared to those who did not use green space.

Additional studies mentioned in the report found that green space had a positive effect on stress management through outdoor activity and exercise, exposure to natural daylight, stimulation of the senses and a positive, aesthetic experience.

Bushwalking tips for maximum fat burning and safety
The following tips are designed to maximise the weight loss benefits of bushwalking while making sure it is a safe and enjoyable experience.

  • Seek out bushwalks and areas of green space in your local area, especially those that include plenty of hills and stairs to maximise the kilojoule burn of your workout.
  • Drink plain water to stay hydrated, especially if your bushwalk is for less than 90 minutes. For longer walks, try a diluted sports water or sports drink to boost your energy levels and replace electrolytes. The less kilojoules you consume, the more fat you'll burn off.
  • Set a good pace during your bushwalk, swinging your arms and striding out. If the terrain becomes unstable, shorten your stride slightly to improve balance. This still allows you to walk with good speed and rhythm, but reduces the risk of a fall.
  • If you go bushwalking by yourself, tell somebody the location and estimated return time of your journey. Take a map if the trek is new to you.
  • Make sure to wear good-quality footwear, apply sunscreen, and pack plenty of water and healthy snacks. it’s also a good idea to carry wet weather gear and a basic first aid kit.

References available on request