Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Walk your way to a lighter you

Walk your way to better health and fitness

Most of us are looking for way to be more active. For many adults it's the promise of weight loss and improved health that offers the motivation to get off the sofa and out the front door.

If you're trying to find an activity that is accessible, flexible and leads to new and interesting places then walking could be the answer.

The facts make for good reading. Assuming one hour of walking for a person who weighs 10.5 stones then:

* Walking on the flat and at an easy-going pace burns 170 calories.

* Hiking or faster walking on off-road surfaces and up hills burns up to 400 calories.

* Backpacking, ie carrying a backpack while walking off-road, burns around 450 calories.

Almost anyone can take up walking as an activity. For those who are less fit then it's vital that you start slowly and build up steadily. Why not start by walking to the shops or out and about with the kids? Switch off the TV for half an hour in the evening and take your partner out for a walk.

You will see the benefits of walking within a week or so. Being outside and walking in the fresh air will give your skin a healthy glow, boost your energy and help you to start to lose weight. In the long-term it will also tone leg and bum muscles.

Over the next few weeks you should increase your pace a little and walk further. Then, once you can walk at a good pace for more than an hour, including some uphill sections, it's time to take your exercise off-road.

Walking on trails and in the hills burns more calories and boosts muscle tone - but it's also a great way to see more of the countryside. In or near to most villages, towns and cities you'll find a network of fantastic paths and trails that are ideal for walkers. Start by exploring some of those close to your home and then, at weekends, why not travel further?

Scotland boasts numerous waymarked trails to walk, along rivers, in valley, along glens and over hills. The views are usually guaranteed to be wonderful and if you take along some friends or your family then you can enjoy a walk and a chat at the same time.

Before you know it you'll be signing up to a guided walking holiday or taking part in a charity walking challenge. Oh, and the chances are you'll have also lost some weight.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Get outdoors and be active!

Canoeing and kayaking are great outdoor
activities for children and adults

Get Active is a message we're hearing more and more. With rising obesity rates, especially among UK children, and greater concerns about the affects of inactivity on health, everywhere we look the experts are telling us to get off the couch and exercise.

The problem is that many people think that exercise = boring and repetitive workouts. But it really doesn't have to be this way.

Scotland's great outdoors offers a fantastic keep-fit playground. Simply being out of doors and active is guaranteed to burn calories and improve your mental well-being. Walking and cycling provide a great way to see the countryside, take in the views and get in shape. Many more people, especially families, are switching on to the benefits of these highly-accessible and relatively cheap activities.

Gorge walking and canyoning are becoming
increasingly popular in Scotland

There are numerous family-friendly cycle and walk routes criss-crossing Scotland and thanks to a number of outdoors companies, such as us (!) Glentrek, people can discover a wealth of new places to go walk or cycle.

But there are also a host of other activities that will get you fit and have you grinning, too. Multi-activity days and holidays are becoming increasingly popular in Scotland. Afterall this country is voted as Europe's number one outdoors capital. In Angus, holidaymakers could combine a few hours of cycling or walking with a morning or afternoon of other great outdoors activities, such as canoeing, sea kayaking, canyoning, high ropes, gorge walking, climbing and coasteering.

These activities are for a range of abilities, from novice to experienced, and for all ages and fitness levels. Until you try you'll never know how much you'll enjoy being active! Just ask us at Glentrek for further info (we can help you to sign up to many of these activities) or check out Outdoor Angus.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Summer walking for families

Angus foothills: Perfect for family walking

We've been seeing a lot more families out walking this year – and now that the summer holidays are in full swing in Scotland there have been a lot more enquires about walking adventures and holidays for the family at Glentrek.

Walking is a great activity for all ages and fitness levels because it can be geared to suit everyone. If you have younger children then you will want to keep the walk shorter, on flatter terrain and with lots of things to see and do en route. As children become older then you can plan to extend your walking expeditions and start to take in some of Scotland's glorious hills and mountains.

One question we're often asked is what kit will children need. The answer is that they should have pretty much the same gear as the adults, although if you're walking in summer it is possible to buy clothing and footwear that is less robust, and hopefully cheaper. With children still growing it can be costly to pay out for new clothing every year so it's worth shopping around for lighter weight, summer clothing that should not be as pricey as winter-standard kit.

The most basic summer walking kit for children should include a waterproof jacket, waterproof over-trousers (have these handy in a rucksack in case the weather changes), walking boots or shoes and walking socks. Children can wear their ordinary t-shirts and fleeces and a pair of comfortable trousers, such as tracksuit bottoms or cargo pants.

A small rucksack is a useful addition, but again, this could be one they already own, perhaps used last term at school. For cooler days, pop a woolly hat and gloves into their backpacks, while on hot days you should insist they wear a sunhat.

A couple of good stores for affordable children's kit include Millets and Go Outdoors. For sturdy, comfortable yet budget-friendly walking shoes we've heard great things about Hi-tec children's boots and also Brasher boots.

Hi-tec do a great range of lighter hiking boots for summer wear. Fellow outdoors enthusiast FionaOutdoors wrote a useful review of a pair of children's Hi-tec walking boots.

Meanwhile, Brasher's Chichon GTX boot for children is a great boot. At £50 a pair it's pricier but if you have younger children to pass the boots down to then this would be a good option. Remember, too, that children can wear walking boots for mucking about in during summer play or during the winter when out and about in the snow. This way you get more wear for your money. (We noticed that Go Outdoors have this boot on sale at £45.)

Another option is Regatta. They sell a slightly cheaper range that would be fine for drier, summer walking on trails. This range of footwear offers some pretty colours, too, which is always god for encouraging the girls to pull on their walking boots!

Now there is no excuse for entertaining the children this summer with a few great family walks.

Pic: Regatta Wayright Jnr walking shoe