Study: hiking is healthier than expected

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A study has scientifically proven positive health effects of hiking

Hiking has long been considered a healthy form of exercise that can also be practiced by people whose constitution does not allow for more strenuous sporting activities. The concept of health hiking, certified by the German Hiking Association (DWV), has now been scientifically reviewed by Professor Kuno Hottenrott from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and his team. Health hiking therefore has a positive impact on the entire organism, it significantly reduces body weight, the Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure and body fat, reports the German Hiking Association of the results of the study. In addition, the "endurance and coordination ability will be improved," the association continued in its current press release.

Scientifically investigating the concept of health walking The researchers led by Professor Kuno Hottenrott from the Institute for Performance Diagnostics and Health Promotion at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg put the concept of health walking to the test as part of their study by testing a group of 18 professionals over a period of time of hiking twice a week for seven weeks. At the beginning of the examination period and after the end of the test phase, the subjects were examined in detail. The development of health was compared with the data from a 16-member control group that had not migrated. The average age of the study participants was 53.6 years.

More than just hiking The German Hiking Association and experts in the physiotherapy department at the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück jointly developed the concept of health hiking around two years ago. When hiking, the hikers are accompanied by a certified health guide who not only reveals general health tips to them during the hike, but also does various physiotherapeutic exercises with the participants. The 90-minute hikes are interrupted twice for appropriate movement exercises, with the participants standing on one leg, for example, or loosening their shoulder muscles. Progressive muscle relaxation also plays a role in the context of health walking, as does the short-term increase in walking speed. During the hike, the participants in the current study covered distances of 3.7 to 5.6 kilometers, depending on the terrain.

Health hiking has numerous positive effects When investigating health-related parameters, physical performance and general well-being after seven weeks of health hiking, the researchers found that there was a clear improvement in all areas in the active group. "Endurance, coordination, blood pressure and body-related data were positively influenced by hiking," reports the DWV in its current press release about the results of the study on health hiking. According to this, the BMI (relation between body weight and height) among health migrants dropped significantly and "body weight decreased significantly." On average, health walking in the test period of seven weeks caused the subjects to lose 1.3 kg in weight (from 91 , 8 kg average weight to 90.5 kg). According to the researchers, the reduction in blood pressure in the hiking group, which according to Professor Hottenrott, was not so clearly to be expected, was particularly striking. "The systolic value fell from 151 to 142 on average, the diastolic value from 92 to 84. This change has positive effects on health," said the expert.

Recognition of health hiking by health insurance companies Professor Hottenrott was convinced of the positive effects of health hiking in view of the current study results and emphasized that "the hiking tours are a really successful intervention". The study also shows that health hiking courses correspond to the core objective of the prevention principle "Reduction of physical inactivity through health sporting activity" of paragraph 20 SGB V and should therefore be taken into account by all health insurance companies, added the managing director of the German Hiking Association, Ute Dicks. Some statutory health insurance companies already had their insured granted a bonus in the past if they completed the German Wanderabzeichen. Now the managing director of the German Hiking Association hopes in discussions with the central association of the statutory health insurance to achieve a basic recognition of certified health hiking as a primary prevention service according to § 20 SGB V. (fp)

Read about hiking:
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Peter Freitag /

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