By Lara Evans Bracciante
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, June/July 2005.
Downhill hiking has a host of health benefits, including reducing blood sugars and improving glucose tolerance, say Austrian researchers. Uphill exercise shortens muscles as they work, while downhill walking requires muscle groups to actively resist stretching. This is especially good news for those with, or at risk for, diabetes, which can make aerobic forms of exercise more difficult. Diabetics can still get exercise that will help manage their disease, and downhill walking may provide a springboard for more vigorous workouts down the road. While uphill exercise is more beneficial in lowering triglycerides, both uphill and downhill directions lower LDL cholesterol.