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  • Jenia Ratcliffe

Walking can be a full cardio and wellbeing experience

Amanda Kidd says hiking and being outdoors has given her a newfound sense of wellbeing and empowerment.

"Living in the city or being in an office, you don't get to see that beauty of nature," says Amanda Kidd, who took up hiking during a turbulent time in her life. "It's just magical … you just see things in a different perspective. "I had a breakup and my whole world sort of turned upside down so, it was like nature therapy for me, being out in the wilderness. "I got quite into it, in terms of going out on my own and just finding trails and walking through them." Walking (and hiking) can be taken up by people of all age groups and fitness levels. It's free and if you keep up a good pace, it's great exercise. It also provides you with an opportunity to get to know your neighbourhood, local parks, bushland or mountains like no other sportsperson. Even a walk around suburban streets can become more of a workout if you incorporate hills or stairs. But for Amanda, there was nothing like the lure of an outdoor hike. After a few years, she took it to the next level and conquered Tasmania's nine-day South Coast Track. "[I] didn't know what I was signing myself up for," she says. "It was my first experience of having to carry a full pack and just being out without civilisation." Despite the challenges, hiking has provided Amanda with a new-found sense of wellbeing and empowerment. "Being on top of a mountain, you feel like you're on top of the world and you've conquered it," she says. "It just brings you back to reality and what's important in life." Walking has also given Amanda the opportunity to develop her strength and cardio while doing something she loves. "It's a real all-over-body workout." she says. "Physically, I'm stronger, mentally I'm stronger … just from exercising regularly and [being] out in nature." For those who are struggling to take the first step, Amanda's advice is to simply put on your walking shoes and take on a small trail with a friend. "You don't need much, just give it a go. Find some easy trails [and] work your way up to it," she says. "If you've organised to go with someone, you've got to turn up. That's a good way of getting yourself out there." Is walking for you? You can walk anywhere, anytime, solo or in a group, on the flat or over hills and even indoors, on a treadmill, if you need to.

Benefits of walking:

  • Cardiovascular fitness and endurance

  • Stronger bones

  • Improved leg strength

  • Great activity to do with friends

  • Stress-busting, especially if done among nature

  • Cost-effective

Equipment needed for walking:

  • If you're going for more than a stroll, you'll need a good pair of shoes.

  • If you're bushwalking or hiking, invest in a pair of hiking boots to protect your feet and ankles.

  • For longer walks or hikes in more remote locations, you might consider extra safety items like a first aid kit, an emergency blanket and a personal locator beacon.

Common walking injuries:

  • Hip and thigh injuries — inflammation and tears in areas like the hip joint and the iliotibial band that runs down the outside of your legs, from your hip to your knee

  • Knee injuries — irritation or inflammation in the kneecap (runner's knee) or the knee joint

  • Lower leg injuries — shin splints and ankle sprains

  • Feet injuries — pain in the heel and arch of the foot

  • Scratches and grazes if you're walking in the bush

Article from ABC Life

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