Person walks barefoot on hiking trail, © Fotolia / electro-jot
© Fotolia / electro-jot

Healthy Hiking


In addition to challenging trails, Lower Saxony also offers many routes suitable for gentler hiking. Shorter routes and firmer pathways provide less strenuous options, leaving you to fully take in the surroundings. There are diverse opportunities for easy, healthy hikes. Trained hiking guides can advise on the various options and explain how healthy hiking works. Barefoot and Nordic walking trails are ideal ways to combine a relaxing holiday with exercise. These leisurely hiking routes are the perfect addition to a stay in one of Lower Saxony’s health resorts. After some rest and relaxation, attractive walking and hiking trails offer excellent opportunities for half-day or full-day excursions.

Hiking for Health

Hiking for Health (Gesundheitswandern) is an exercise programme offered by the German Hiking Association (Deutscher Wanderverband), combining hiking and selected workouts to improve fitness. And what’s more, the hiking is fun! Trained guides lead the hiking group through the countryside. During the hike, the group take regular breaks at scenic spots to do exercises aimed at improving coordination, strength and stamina while aiding relaxation. The guides are trained hiking guides, nature or countryside guides, or have completed training in active exercise therapy. All guides have successfully completed and passed a specialised training course and are certified by the German Hiking Association.

In the programme, participants improve their stamina, learn how to move with confidence in terrain like woods and fields, and leave everyday worries behind. Specific muscles are strengthened and body awareness is improved. The guides provide tips and tricks to integrate more exercise into your daily routine and can help you to manage your weight and transcend your existing limits. Through hiking, you can actively contribute to your wellbeing, exchange experiences with likeminded people, and experience nature in all its seasons. The Hiking for Health programme was originally developed for sedentary people aged 55 and over, but it is also suitable for anyone interested in getting fit or maintaining their fitness, or who prefer outdoor exercise to the gym. There are special Hiking for Health events integrated into sport club hiking programmes and in childcare centres, as well as tailored programmes catering for singles, people with chronic illnesses, and diabetics.

Detailed information on Hiking for Health is available on the German Hiking Association website.

Barefoot Hiking

Are your feet fed up of being stuck in hot, heavy hiking boots? Then why not try a barefoot hike! Walking barefoot is important for your health, helping to promote circulation throughout the entire body, and stimulating the cardiovascular system. In addition, it strengthens the immune system, as the temperature stimuli assist the body in generating heat. It also strengthens your veins, protects against varicose veins, and strengthens the muscles, ligaments and joints in your feet. And your spine will thank you for it! Being able to move freely, without the pressure of close-fitting hiking shoes, helps you to walk with greater ease and freedom. The muscles of the feet serve as shock absorbers and thus protect the discs against impact. The direct contact between the sole of the foot and the earth also aids in stress reduction and relaxation, and heightens awareness. Regular barefoot walkers also show greater sensitivity towards nature. There are several barefoot trails in Lower Saxony, for example, in Bad Bodenteich and Egestorf, both in the Lüneburger Heide, and in Harkebrügge in Oldenburger Münsterland.

More details are available at: www.barfusspark.info.

Nordic Walking

Nordic walking is an endurance sport where the walker is aided by the use of two walking poles. By tailoring the speed and exertion to individual needs, Nordic walking is a sport which is suitable for all, irrespective of age or weight. It doesn’t require any specific skills or training and is therefore a good activity for people who haven’t previously done much sport. Nordic walking is not very strenuous, but is nonetheless an effective form of exercise, making it easier to stay motivated. Another advantage of Nordic walking is that you can do it anywhere. In the forest, on hiking trails or even on cycling paths: you just need to grab your poles and go!

Nordic Walking works different muscle groups, including the front and rear arm muscles, the back and the legs, and through the resulting improvements in circulation can help to relieve muscle tension, especially in the shoulders, neck and arms. It also activates your metabolism and promotes fat burning. Exercising in the fresh air boosts your general sense wellbeing. By activating several muscle groups, Nordic walking results in 20% more calories being burned than other similarly paced sport activities.
In addition, it reduces the risk of osteoporosis, as it works a large part of the skeletal musculature. It can help to improve the cardiovascular system, regulate blood pressure, reduce stress, and bring long-term benefits for the immune system. Going Nordic walking a minimum of three times a week in combination with a healthy diet is a very effective method for weight loss. Nordic walking is medically safe. There are no associated risks and it is significantly less hard on the joints than other sports.