Take a walk up a Napa hill

Taking a morning stroll on one of our brisk winter mornings has been a tradition for many people as an energizing and uplifting start to the day. This opportunity to hang out with your spouse, family member or friend could also be a neighborhood walk after dinner.

Walks are great ways to clear the mind and get some exercise in at two parts of the day when our minds are at their most profound activity. Leaving our home or workplace briefly to embark on a walk seems like a natural application to reduce stress. Even though walking may seem like a feeble form of exercise, the compound effects of regular walks have substantially positive effects on our fitness and overall quality of life.

The lower extremities possess the largest surface area of skeletal muscle in the body. As these muscles perform physical activity, oxygen is required within the working muscle to produce energy. The body receives oxygenated blood flow from the pumping of the heart. Once muscles exert stress past their normal state of comfort, these rigorous demands throughout physical activity send a signal to our brain, telling our hearts to beat a little faster. This feedback mechanism creates positive adaptations both to our lower extremity muscles and our heart’s cardiac muscle.

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Not only will these exercise adaptations produce optimal benefits to our skeletal and cardiac muscles, but stress hormones are produced while performing slightly increased physical activity. By producing these stress hormones during a bout of moderate exercise, the body utilizes free-floating stress hormones. This means, stress hormones caused by external sources in our everyday lives, which leave us feeling less anxious, nervous or emotionally unbalanced are utilized during exercise. So, we won’t feel stressed after we exercise more.

Another potently effective form of walking to add to any fitness routine is inclined walking. Choosing a slightly inclined hill or one of the local parks with hiking trails are productive additions to add to a walking routine.

Inclined walking offers advanced forms of productive stress to the body that is not present in flat ground walking. For example, walking up a hill might take fewer steps to travel the distance of flat ground walking. As the body takes fewer steps up a hill, the muscles present in the lower extremities exert more force as the foot plants onto the inclined surface and propels the body upward. The increased demands of the angle of an incline trek require the body to travel against gravity. Therefore, increased muscular demand of the ankle, knee, and hip joints must be utilized. This more challenging exercise mode requires more energy to be used by the lower extremity muscles, which leads to more oxygen demand and ultimately increases the heart’s beats per minute.

Introducing an additional walking mode into an exercise program produces optimal benefits for various reasons. The lower amount of distance traveled up a hill imposes less physical stress on the lower extremity joints while producing a more intense heart rate response when compared to flat-ground walking.

Additionally, the expanded function of muscular use during incline walking isn’t as present in flat ground walking. Acquiring the strength and conditioning adaptions from incline walking can add another component to our fitness levels and improve our performance from flat ground walking.

Don’t be afraid to hike up a few hills or visit a few moderately challenging trails around your area. Performing just five minutes of inclined walking once per week can improve muscular strength, decrease joint pain, and add another fun and engaging adventure to a weekly walking routine.

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: SAID and the challenges of travel

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: A completely different pace

Fitness trainer Sean McCawley experienced challenges to his healthy Napa lifestyle on his 10-day trip to Portugal. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Simple exercises for a huge impact

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Watching your fitness grow

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Waking up and exercising, Part 2

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Waking up and exercising, Part 1

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Just don't hurt your back, Part 2

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Just don't hurt your back, Part 1

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Try a digital detox

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Optimal exercises for busy lives

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Mitigating sciatica via fitness, Part 1

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Big, hairy, audacious goals

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Maintaining the all-important joints

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If you were or still are in COVID lockdown, you may have taken up exercising outside including going for a walk! Buzz60’s Mercer Morrison has the story.


Sean McCawley, the founder and owner of Napa Tenacious Fitness in Napa, welcomes questions and comments. Reach him at 707-287-2727, [email protected], or visit the website napatenaciousfitness.com.