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A hike at the weekend isn’t always possible but it sure if a fun thing to do and something that can be built into your life regularly even if it’s not every week. This episode of the #HealthyHabits2017 Challenge is brought to you from Lake Garda in Italy where my mum and I did do a lot of exploring and then went on a spontaneous hike up a mountain next the town we were staying…

But first - what are the health benefits of hiking?

Much like what we discovered in using the stairs and walking extra every day regular aerobic exercise such as walking and hiking have great impacts on your health. Such as improved cardio-respiratory fitness for your heart, lungs and blood vessels. You can improve your strength and muscle fitness as you're moving them and getting more oxygen to them. 

You lower your risks of getting the nasty things that might kill you such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, some cancers and lowers your risk of having high cholesterol. 

Walking and hiking is also good for your mental health as it improves your quality of sleep and can reduce symptoms and effects of depression. Also it's good for controlling your weight as hiking can burn up to 370 calories an hour.

All good and all worth it. Plus the places you might go will be worth the views, and being in nature feels really good - just getting all the fresh air! 

HOW DID IT GO AND WERE THERE ANY PROBLEMS?

I love walking, and going for really long walks especially for good views… and this one was totally worth it for the view of the sunset alone. I had brought it up earlier in the day and my mum wanted to go and explore. We saw the sign to ‘La Rocca’ round the corner from where we’re staying in Garda.

She said reluctantly ‘shall we just see how far we can go’… this translated to ‘we’re both a bit too stubborn to turn back on ourselves so let’s go all the way to the top’. I wanted to see the view and I think my mum wanted to prove she could do it (hiking up a mountain isn’t something you can do in my hometown). Plus she felt guilty about not wanting to go to the top of a mountain in a cable car the day before.

It was tough work walking up - there were a lot of stairs that had been built to get up there and lots of slippery rocks as it had been a little rainy the day before. It wasn’t overly steep but it was a constant onwards and upwards path which at any degree is a tiring thing.

We stopped a couple of times to catch our breath but personally it felt really good to move and get my heart rate up as I’d felt a bit cold and rubbish earlier on in the day. Walking with a purpose is very motivating. It took about an hour and a half to get to the top of the mountain and about an hour to come down. 

Once we got to the top the view of the sunset going down just behind the mountains was totally worth it, we could see the whole town of Garda and Bardolino from the top and across the lake to the far side (it's a very big lake). It was beautiful and only one other person had been inquisitive enough to end up at the top with us. 

The only trouble was our varying degrees of fitness and making sure my mum was okay going up and down. She found a stick to help her up and down and I took a photo of her being a mountaineer. Very fun! Hopefully I can do more of these in the UK with the dog. 

This week we're reading at least 20mins a day. Happy Healthy Habiting!

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