The benefits of hill walking – it’s not just about the view from the top!

Here at Cotswold Journeys we clearly love a good walk but opinions always differ on our favourite type of Cotswold walk. Some of us love a gentle stroll through a breezy forest while others love hiking up a hill and soaking up the stunning view from the top. Let’s face it all forms of walking are great (in our humble opinion) so let's take a look at the added health and mental wellbeing benefits to hill walking too...

The obvious difference is the number of calories you’ll burn - a six hour hill walk at two miles an hour can burn up to a huge 1400 calories. But whilst burning those cals there are lots of other things going on in your body, let’s start with the lower part.

The glutes and hamstrings are involved with knee flexion and hip extension. While walking on flat ground there is only a small amount of stress placed on these muscles but once you throw in a nice hill then your body will be actively contracting these muscles to make it to the top - great for staying flexible and strong into those golden years! It's the same with the calves which get worked hardest when your toes are pointing downwards. This is called planter flexion, so when you walk up hills you have to forcefully contract your calves, hence working them harder than when walking on flat ground.

Most people don't realise that walking up hills can actually be just as intense as going for a run, yet it doesn’t place the huge amount of stress on your knees, hips and ankle joints. It can also be a great prevention of osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak as they age.

Upper body benefits are obviously feeling leaner from calories burned, getting that heart rate up, along with the mental challenge of getting up that hill. Reaching the top has a really exhilarating and positive effect on our minds, and whilst it's all about the journey rather than the destination, we can't deny the great feeling when we get to the top of that hill!

Are there any downsides to the intense uphill walk in comparison to a nice brisk flat walk?

Taking to the hills involves trekking through our beautiful Cotswold countryside, often on a path less trodden, but just by being there we all make an impact and if we are to protect the environment we love so much then we also have to accept that some work will be required on it at times. We must take care to ensure that we don’t destroy its natural beauty and approach any work with softer techniques that are sensitive to the environment, along with educating others who perhaps might be new to discovering the beauty of a walking tour in the Cotswolds.

Physically tackling a moderate hill won’t cause you much harm, but if you prefer to tackle some more serious mountain walks then you have to keep in mind altitude sickness and so taking your time to acclimatise is really important. Weather can also take a turn for the worse very quickly at altitude and so you really have to be prepared.

Whatever takes your fancy though a Cotswold Walking Tour is always going to be a great experience (rain or shine!) - we feel pretty lucky to have such beauty on our doorstep.