Posted on 19 Oct 2016

Dorset Fitness Retreat Review October 2016

hill running exerciseAt the FitFarms fitness retreat course in Dorset this week we were lucky to get a spell of crisp, sunny October weather which was perfect for walking. We took the opportunity to walk up Bullbarrow Hill. From the cottages it is about a 5 mile walk, along some peaceful country lanes, with some beautiful views of the countryside. The clients enjoyed the walk very much despite the rather steep hill!

What is it about walking up and down hills that we tend to dread so much? It is mostly a case of not being adapted to hills. This is not the same thing as not being fit enough. A person might be super fit when it comes to playing tennis, lifting weights, or walking along the flat. But that is so often the definition of fitness - the ability to perform a specific task. Being fit at one thing doesn’t necessarily make you fit at another.

The body is very adaptable. This is a good thing, but it can also be a problem. If you play a lot of tennis, your body will adapt and get better both in terms of skill and fitness. If you sit at a desk all day every day your body will adapt to be very good at sitting at a desk. If you only ever walk along flat and level gradients your body will adapt to only be good at doing that. Why should it maintain the adaptation necessary to walk up and down steep hills if that’s not something that you do regularly?

That is why, when you then encounter a steep hill, it seems so daunting. But it’s only because your body is not used to it. You might find that your calves are tight and sore from walking up hill. You might find that your knees hurt while walking down hill. But if you avoid hills the problem only gets worse - its not until you feed your body with lots of ‘Vitamin Hill’ that your calf muscles will lengthen, allowing you to propel yourself up the hill with the powerful muscles of the glutes, and build the strength in your lateral hip muscles to take the pressure off your knees when walking down hill.

In our stretch and mobility classes we look at exercises that you can do to help your body get back the strength and ranges of movement that you need to find hills a breeze. And we do plenty of beautiful walks too, of all levels of challenge. It is all about giving your body variety, so that it maintains adaptations to everything that life throws at it - up hill, down hill and everything in between.

Special blog post from one of our FitFarms Health and Fitness instructors.

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