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. 2015 Feb;48(2):150-3.
doi: 10.1007/s00391-014-0622-0.

Effect of Weekly Hiking on Cardiovascular Risk Factors in the Elderly


Effect of Weekly Hiking on Cardiovascular Risk Factors in the Elderly

H Gatterer et al. Z Gerontol Geriatr. .


Background: Hiking is one of the most popular activities among the elderly in Alpine regions. Due to the long-lasting, moderately intensive nature of this form of physical activity, hiking is generally considered to be beneficial to health. However, it is currently unclear whether once-weekly hiking--as commonly practiced at weekends--really does yield such positive effects in elderly persons aged 60 years and over.

Objectives: This study investigated the effect of a single weekly mountain hiking session on cardiovascular risk factors.

Materials and methods: A 9-month mountain hiking program was completed by 14 male (age 65.6 ± 2.7 years) and 10 female (age 66.2 ± 4.4 years) elderly participants. The program consisted of a single weekly hiking session with the goal of achieving a 500-m altitude increase within 3 h. Before and after the 9-month program, an electrocardiogram (ECG) was performed and blood pressure, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), high-density (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) measurements were made.

Results: The elderly participants showed a normal cardiovascular risk profile at the start of the investigation. The estimated net energy expenditure for one hiking session was approximately 521 ± 91 kcal. Over the 9-month period, no changes were found in any of the investigated parameters for the entire group. However, participants with untreated hypertension showed a reduced systolic blood pressure.

Conclusion: The present investigation showed that moderate-intensity activity only at weekends does not improve cardiovascular risk factors in elderly persons with a relatively normal cardiovascular risk profile. Conversely, elderly persons suffering from hypertension might profit from such a practice.

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