In the early days of evolution, walking was the only option for transportation and exercise. Fast forward to today, the amount people walk has reduced significantly. This has reduced the health of many; but for some, walking is the most suitable form of exercise. 150 mins of physical activity per week is considered as the minimal amount one should complete, as stated by the NHS.

Recently, it has been concluded that walking in an altitude environment is a better alternative to walking in a normal environment. The study found that one can walk at the same speed at altitude as they would in a normal environment, but get more metabolic and physiological benefits at altitude. This is because many factors, such as heart rate, breathing rate and carbohydrate metabolism, increase to maintain human function when oxygen levels are at a premium. Alternatively, this can be reversed. One can reduce the walking speed at altitude, whilst getting the same metabolic and physiological benefits of the slightly faster speed in a normal environment. This is again due to the fact that our bodies work that little bit harder at altitude to maintain normal function. So in this case, one can reduce the workload (walking speed) to maintain the metabolic and physiological responses. There are many benefits to this reversal. Firstly, due to walking slower at altitude, the total weight-bearing is reduced. Secondly, this will preserve the joints associated with walking as there is less weight being put through them. And thirdly, over time this will permit for longer and more frequent walks as there is a reduced weight being put through preserved joints.

Therefore, to increase physical activity through walking, one can do this by reducing the workload at altitude but gaining exactly the same health benefits of walking in a normal environment. Whilst completing these in our chamber at Trump Street, why not crank up the percentage incline on the treadmill to really simulate that mountain summit finish? Book in for one of our solo sessions here to give it a go!

Study details
Girard et al. (2017). Frontiers in Physiology, doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00073.