An Intense Workout Can Sometimes Be An Uphill Climb

Mountains do a body good. When physical activity involves moving upward at an incline, the intensity level rises along with energy demand and calorie burn. Certain muscle groups, such as the gluteal muscles and the calves, are highly activated when the body is pushing itself upward. Activities such as hiking can help tone and tighten those muscles, but that’s not all it will do for the body.

“The gluteal group is a really large, collective muscle group, and if their activation is greater, that will demand more oxygen,” explains Lawrence Wilkes, an exercise physiologist in St. Joseph’s/Candler’s Wellness Center. “More oxygen makes your heart rate go up and that is where you find the higher intensity.”

“Hiking or walking uphill also increase the range of motion for the calf muscles,” Wilkes adds. “They will be more active and involved in the movement.”

So, for an intense workout that tones your posterior, get yourself out to the nearest hill or mountain trail.

But wait—there are no such places in Savannah or the Low Country.

“It is possible to mimic the resistance that hikers experience,” Wilkes says. “Steppers and treadmills with incline are obviously helpful, but there are also ways to do it outside the gym. The slopes of a parking deck, stairways, and stadium bleachers can help provide similar activation of those muscle groups.”

Another environment from which those of us who live so close to sea level can benefit is the beach. The loose sand towards the back of the beach can add strong resistance to forward motion.

Wilkes also notes that hikers who carry a backpack are working out their upper back, shoulders, lower spine, and torso. Even though the trails in this area are flat, adding a backpack with the right amount of weight to your walk can help you activate those upper body muscles as well.

Finally, walking back down a parking deck slope or using a treadmill that can provide negative incline mimics a downhill hike by shifting the braking motion to the front of the leg. This benefits the quadricep muscles, which tend not to get much use otherwise from flatland dwellers.

“Using these exercises can help you prepare for a trip to the mountains,” Wilkes says. “Or they can simply be used to get similar benefits right here, all year long.”
  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
  • Find us on:

St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000