ASHEVILLE, NC – November 29, 2023 – Hiking and walking fast are good activities to help people get in shape; however, a variety of hiking and walking fast called ‘rucking’ can get people in even better condition. Rucking involves walking or hiking with a weighted pack. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors did this more than 10 thousand years ago when they had to carry stuff over long distances to hunt animals for food. Early hunters developed strength and endurance that helped to protect themselves from danger. In modern times, the military adopted marching long distances with a loaded back pack for training and fitness. Fitness experts suggest adding 10 to 30 or more pounds of weight to the pack.
Rucking is a great workout with many health benefits over hiking and walking. These workouts are easy-to-moderate intensity training, in between a leisurely walk and a hard run. It is a great cardio session. Conversation is still possible and the heart reaches about 60-70 percent of its maximal rate. A hilly course is more strenuous than going on flat terrain. However, walking in a neighborhood with a weighted pack becomes great exercise! A session can even be as little as 15 minutes. Muscles of the legs and trunk (commonly referred to as the core muscles) become stronger. Dr. Peter Attitia, a physician expert in living longer and the author of the newly published book Outlive, has described how hiking with a weighted pack affects going uphill and downhill. Going uphill stresses VO2 Max. This stands for the maximum amount of oxygen that the body uses in a minute. Training can improve the VO2 Max by about 20-25%. A higher VO2 Max has been associated with better health and living longer. While going downhill is good for core stability muscles and eccentric muscle contraction and strengthening.
Here’s a few things to know about rucking.
- It’s a great activity to do when pushing a young child in a stroller.
- The added weight may not be apparent to a fitness tracker
- Specialty gear is expensive, but adding bottles of water or bags of rice to the pack may do
- It is easier on joints than running
- Moving in a natural environment is good for emotional health like walking meditation
Having moved to Asheville, 3 years ago, I have found that many people here like to engage in outdoor activities like hiking. Many hikers on the trail wear a back pack. Last week, I fast walked the Asheville Turkey Trot 5K and finished with 2 walkers wearing large back packs. Maybe they were rucking to get a more intensive workout than us walkers before their Thanksgiving Feast?
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Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, firstname.lastname@example.org