Walking, West Highland Way

How to get fit for a walking holiday

26 Jun , 2013  

All the research shows that walking is an easy and highly accessible way to get fit. Walking is great for cardiovascular and muscular fitness and has been found to ward off depression and dementia. So, if you’re looking for a holiday that finds you returning fitter than when you went (when does that ever happen on a pool-side vacation?), a walking holiday is the perfect choice. But you’ll want to be able to enjoy the holiday so getting fit before you go is vital.

Just go out and walk

Most people will tell you that lack of time is the main reason for not walking. But there are a few ways that you can squeeze a bit of walking into your everyday life. It’s important to start with easy walks and build up, especially if you’re in any way worried about your health. Even 15 minutes of walking a day, three times per week, to start with will be beneficial and you can build this by no more than 10% each session each week.

  • Get up 15 to 30 minutes earlier and head out for an early morning brisk walk
  • Walk the kids to school
  • Get off the bus or train, or park the car, a mile or two from the office and walk the rest of the commute.
  • Walk and talk at work instead of sitting in an office for a meeting
  • Walk at lunchtime
  • Walk to the shops/swimming pool/into town instead of taking the car on shorter journeys
  • Encourage family fitness by walking new routes and trails at weekends.

Tips for walking motivation

Sometimes it’s the thought of getting up to go out for a walk that stops you in your tracks. Here are a few tips for motivation:

  • Agree to walk with a friend three times a week. You are less likely to let down a friend.
  • Keep a chart of calories burned if you walk for half an hour. Pin this to the fridge and see how inspired you become to walk more often
  • Wear a pedometer or smartwatch. It’s satisfying to see the walking steps mounting up.
  • Join a walking group. Initiatives such as Walking for Health connect you with group walks that make walking more fun and sociable.
  • Add music to your walk. So long as it’s safe to do so (traffic free), listen to fast music as you walk.
  • If you really can’t be bothered, tell yourself that you’ll go out for five minutes and if you still feel like sitting down you can. What normally happens however is that most people end up walking on.

Walking holiday fitness

Italian Dolomites Alta Via 1 Trek

Hiking in the Italian Dolomites is an ideal fitness goal to work towards.

“How fit do I need to be?” It’s a common question for people who are thinking about booking a walking holiday. The answer is: “It depends on your choice of walking holiday.” Walking holidays can range from easy going walks of a few hours each day – such as this short walking break in the Cotswolds – to more energetic Alpine and high-level walking, like the Alta Via 1 in the Italian Dolomites.

There is a walking holiday to suit all fitness levels but the more you’ve walked beforehand the more you’ll enjoy your holiday. If you plan to go on a walking holiday that requires lots of hill climbs and long days on your feet it’s important that you have built up your walking mileage in the months before the trip. The rule of thumb is to start within your comfort zone and build up by about 10% in terms of distance and effort each week. Walk three times a week, perhaps with two shorter walks mid-week and a longer walk at lunchtime. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to get fit.

Wear your walking boots

When walking to get fit make sure you wear the walking boots or shoes that you plan to take on holiday. You can wear trainers for some of the walks but it’s important to wear walking bots and walk on similar terrain if you are heading off for an off-the-beaten-track hill or mountain walking holiday. We know it might seem like an obvious thing to say but not everyone does this. Wearing in your legs and your footwear are both as important as each other!

Tell us your top tips for walking motivation.

If you’d like any advice on long distance walking holidays of any grade, do get in touch with the team on [email protected].

By
A journalist, web copywriter blogger and social media chatterbox, Fiona combines her love of the outdoors – especially Scotland – with a diverse freelance work life. If she's not at her desk writing about the outdoors, she'll be outside cycling, running, kayaking, snowboarding and walking Munros. She shares her outdoors passion with partner, the G-Force. Sometimes her teenage daughter Little Miss Outdoors tags along, too.