Hiking To Stay Fit

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Greetings from very sunny, very warm Virginia, USA!! Me and my family are out here for a couple of weeks travelling with my older sister who has been doing Camp American up in New York for the entire summer, so thought I'd take the opportunity to talk about fitness. Lol.

I know, I know. At this point you're probably thinking something along the lines of "but, Emilia, you've never mentioned fitness before and you're about to go all gym wanker on us?" Well, no. I'm turning into a bit of a gym wanker it has to be said but I'm not suddenly going to start talking about pumping irons and counting macros and all that hardcore stuff. What I mean is, I just want to talk about some different ways of getting in some cardio and raising your heart rate which is always good for your body. I do want to talk about fitness a little bit more but I thought this would be a good one for a first post.

The other day, we did a fantastic hike (or walk, as my mother keeps telling me to call it - "hike is so American") to a beautiful waterfall in Pembroke, VA, called Cascade Falls. The hike was 4 miles there and back, and quite physically stimulating, with bridges and scrambles and lots of uphills and steps. In other words, it gets you a good sweat on just walking it. It'd also be a really good fell running trail, as there's a lot of interest involved in it so the time would almost fly by. My stamina still needs some work before I'd be able to run something like that but I would love to run that particular trail, shame it's in America is all!!

I don't feel like this photo really captures it properly, it was one I snapped in a hurry because the camera battery was about to die given that I'd been filming snippets of the hike for my YouTube and hadn't charged the battery first. Lesson learned there.

At the end there was this beautiful pool which people were full on going swimming in - we did not, but did go for a bit of a paddle and let me tell you, it was freezing. See that shirtless guy in the right hand side of the above photo? Yeah, he was properly diving into that pool. And trying to convince his girlfriend (sat on the rock) to as well, but she steadfastly refused. I reckon I would have done if I'd had a wetsuit - us English gals are waaay used to freezing water temperatures, am I right?!

Anyway, back to the point. Though this hike is in America, there are really great walks all over England that are physically challenging but also just really good ways of spending more time with friends and family in a cheap way. Take the Lake District for example - a huge range of walks and peaks for any level, and youth hostels all over the place which hardly cost anything. A couple of years ago me, my Dad and my older sister did a wild camp up near Scafell Pike - it was the most challenging walk I'd done at that point in my life but I enjoyed it so much. Climbing peaks like that can also give you an immense feeling of accomplishment. Last year we did a trip up Snowdon - Snowdon is slightly different in that there are two well known trails up called the Pyg Track and Crib Goch. Pyg is a lot easier, your standard run-of-the-mill walk, whereas Crib Goch you should tackle if you've had some sort of mountaineering experience before as it does involve quite a lot of challenging scrambling and short climbs, plus a scramble along a rock ridge towards the end of the climb. We also did it when it was really foggy and the visibility was not good so I can say I was pretty scared at some points on that particular hike - but we made it out alive and I can say I've got a good experience under my belt.

The point is that walking is easy, accessible and a really sociable way of getting your sweat on and just getting that little bit of cardio in. If you live in the countryside there are so many different walks around the fields (Buckinghamshire has the Cross Bucks Way for example, me and the fam have completed the first 6 mile leg of the 26 mile total, really good and fills up a day too!). Cardio is essential if you're trying to get fitter - you can't just go to the gym and pump irons all day, although muscle strength is important cardio is also equally as essential. It increases your self-worth and sense of accomplishment, builds up your stamina and just raises your heart rate and gets you some fresh air which is always good for the brain.

So there's no excuse really!! Get a local map of the area, or even easier just Google some good walks near you, or even make it into a holiday and take a trip up to the Peak or Lake District and do some exploring around there.

Good luck and I'll be back soon with another fitness post, involving some water this time ;)

Emilia xx

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