The power of ex­er­cise in its man­i­fest forms on the way

The Herald - - OPINION -

EWS that fewer rep­e­ti­tions dur­ing work­outs could yield bet­ter re­sults will doubt­less be wel­comed by many of us seek­ing to be­come fit promptly.

The sting in the tail of re­search by Univer­sity of Stir­ling sci­en­tists is that it refers to high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing, and that you will have to get on your spe­cialised ex­er­cise bike for a “supra­max­i­mal” sprint. There is no way of get­ting round it.

Or is there? Per­haps we need to walk be­fore we can sprint, and what bet­ter place to do that than on the John Muir Way, which has been recog­nised as one of Scot­land’s Great Trails.

The pres­ti­gious Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage ac­co­lade hon­ours the 134-mile route that stretches across Scot­land’s heart­land from He­lens­burgh in the west to Dun­bar in the east.

Dun­bar was the birth­place of Muir, who pi­o­neered con­ser­va­tion and is of­ten re­ferred to as the fa­ther of na­tional parks. He helped save Yosemite Val­ley and was cred­ited with sav­ing Amer­ica’s soul from to­tal sur­ren­der to ma­te­ri­al­ism.

He once said: “I could have be­come a mil­lion­aire, but chose in­stead to be­come a tramp.”

No one would be ex­pected to tramp the whole 134 miles of Scot­land’s John Muir Way in one go and, as it takes in castles and a plethora of in­ter­est­ing towns and vil­lages, the best ap­proach might be to walk it in short bursts.

Af­ter all, life is a marathon, not a sprint.

The health ben­e­fits of walk­ing are proven. But this new re­search into high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing also sounds like it is on the ball.

In­deed, the gen­eral prin­ci­ple of short, in­tense sprints would pre­sum­ably ap­ply to other gym ex­er­cises be­yond ex­er­cise-bik­ing.

The long and the short of it is that, if you can com­bine short cy­cle sprints in the gym with a good, long walk on the likes of the John Muir Way, you will be do­ing your body and your soul a power of good.

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