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Here's a great reason to get out of bed this weekend.

Sydney Coastrek, 50-100km Team Challenge to raise funds for The Fred Hollows Foundation.

By DI WESTAWAY

Get fit fast and have fun by walking with bursts of intensity and resistance just three times a week in the great outdoors with your friends.

Walking for fitness brings countless benefits to you and your friends. And, it’s as inexpensive as the cost of your shorts, t- shirts, runners and a challenging goal to inspire you to walk regularly. You can easily do your training in a local park, bush reserve or beach, giving maximum results in minimum time by using interval and resistance training.

Interval training is when you alternate bursts of high intensity activity followed by recovery phases, and resistance training is where you add some kind of weight to the activity to force your muscles to strengthen.

When you combine interval and resistance training, you build muscle and burn fat faster. That means you get fit faster, which we LOVE! With a few simple tips, this combination of interval training and resistance training can be done while walking in stunning locations on hills, stairs and soft sand, and if you invite a friend, it’s social as well. But the best news for you is that this time efficient, effective form of exercise is great for overall health and fitness. It’s also known as metabolic resistance training: you will build muscle, burn fat, AND improve cardiovascular fitness.

So, exactly how do you do this metabolic resistance training? Traditionally it’s done in a gym with weights, circuits and personal trainers. But, it can also be done by walking outdoors in nature with a backpack, walking poles and your friends.

Here’s how you do it:

Block out 3×1 hour slots per week in your diary with a training buddy, preferably at sunrise before life gets in the way: Tues, Thurs and Sat 6-7am while kids sleep work well for mums.

Find a location/s which includes grass, stairs, hills, soft sand, undulating and natural features. These features add the intensity.

Pack a back pack with water bottle, a couple of kilos of rice for extra weight, a snack, sunscreen, raincoat, and towel starting at about 5 kilos and adding half a kilo a week to a maximum of 10kg. This weight is your resistance.

Use trekking or ski poles as you walk so that you add additional upper body strengthening. Simply push hard on the poles when you go up the stairs and use the poles for balance on the descent. This helps to strengthen the shoulders, triceps and back muscles & prevent injury.

Go to your location and do the following:

Walk gently for 5 minutes to warm up

Do 5 minutes of dynamic movement such as leg and arm circles and hip and shoulder rotating movements to prevent injury

(Day 1) Go up and down the stairs or hills so that you really puff on the way up, and recover your breath on the way down for 30 minutes

(Day 2) Walk along the soft sand &/or in knee deep water in sets so that you alternate laps where you really puff for 1 – 3 minutes with intervals of gentle walking for 1-3 minutes to recover & do lunges, squats and step ups in sets of 20 with your backpack on &  for 30 mins

(Day 3) Walk along an undulating bush track and every time you find a set of stairs enroute, go up and down them a few times for 30 mins.

Try to find rocky & coastal trails, and natural obstacles that you can climb around or over during your workout so you challenge the whole body

Finish your workout with some core/stretching exercises that you borrow from yoga or pilates, like sun salutations with plank, downward and upward facing dogs or planks.

And if you’d like a really fun way to stay motivated to walk 3 times a week with your friends over summer, come with us on the Wild Women On Top Sydney Coastrek, 50-100km Team Challenge 28th Feb 2014. This event fills fast: Enter NOW so YOU don’t miss out. 

Di Westaway is a mother of three and the CEO of Wild Women On Top, Trek Training For Adventure. She is a former Australian Gymnastic Champion, physical education lecturer and journalist. Di is an expert in women’s health and fitness and adventure philanthropist.

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