Walking has a healing effect on the human body, forming the basis of what’s known as the terrain cure.
The term “terrain cure” characterizes one of the variants of health-improving therapy, which has the following features:
- Involves hiking over rough terrain.
- Provides controlled physical activity.
- Combines physical therapy, landscape therapy, and climate therapy.
Although walking is the basis of terrain cure, this discipline differs from the usual street walking.
The first difference lies in the conditions in which the walk takes place. Terrain cure allows walking only in unpolluted places in the fresh air. Walking on city streets in conditions of dust and gas pollution won’t provide the proper health benefits.
The second difference is that terrain cure is characterized by specific walking parameters:
- Respiratory rhythm
- Compliance with the specified route.
During a regular walk, there is no need to observe such parameters.
Terrain cure also differs from another variant of wellness walking – Nordic walking. In this case, the difference is determined by the physical training requirement.
Nordic walking is recommended for people who can withstand prolonged physical exertion. Terrain cure is a “lightweight” option suitable for individuals with medium and low levels of physical fitness.
Another difference is that terrain cure doesn’t require the use of special sticks or other devices.
Positive Properties and Indications
Among the advantages of terrain cure is its ability to provide the following impact on the body:
- Improve the condition and function of the musculoskeletal system.
- Normalize the functioning of the cardiovascular system.
- Stabilize blood pressure.
- Enhance emotional well-being by reducing feelings of anxiety and stress.
- Positively affect the state of the respiratory system.
- Accelerate metabolic processes.
- Stimulate the functions of the digestive system.
- Strengthen the immune system.
- Promote blood circulation to organs and tissues.
- Train skeletal muscles.
- Oxygenate the body.
- Improve visual acuity.
- Minimize the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Given these advantages, terrain cure has a wide range of indications. Classes in this wellness discipline are recommended in the presence of the following conditions:
- Cardiac and vascular pathologies.
- Respiratory problems (asthma, bronchitis, or post-pneumonia rehabilitation).
- Arthritis, arthrosis, and other diseases that affect the musculoskeletal system.
- Vegetative-vascular dystonia.
- Depressive states.
- Diseases of the liver, gastrointestinal tract, and gallbladder.
- Impaired metabolic processes.
If a person doesn’t have these diseases but leads a sedentary lifestyle, has a low level of endurance, and often catches a cold, terrain cure will help them improve their health.
Since terrain cure involves light physical activity, it has few contraindications. Refraining from recreational walking is necessary in the presence of the following conditions:
- Chronic disease that has become acute.
- Feverish condition.
- Unexplained pain.
- Acute allergic reaction to flowering plants.
- Recent injury.
- Decompensated respiratory or cardiovascular insufficiency.
The possibility of practicing terrain cure with any of the listed diseases should be discussed individually with the attending doctor.
Based on the features of the route, terrain cure is divided into several types.
The first type of terrain cure, wellness, is a classic version of therapeutic walking. It’s characterized by a variety of walking routes, including flat forests, rocky roads, landscapes with small ascents, and coastal areas. Due to this diversity, this type of walking is suitable for people of different age groups and different levels of physical fitness.
The second type includes educational terrain cure, which assumes routes in the following places:
- Nature reserves with informational stands about plants and animals.
- Locations with historical sites and objects of interest.
Routes for an educational tour can pass through beautiful places where you can take photos for memory.
The third type of terrain cure is called extreme because it passes through places with the following features:
- Mountain ranges with ascents exceeding 30°.
- Rocky ledges.
- Mountain streams.
- Narrow paths.
Extreme exercise classes are recommended exclusively for people with good physical fitness who don’t have serious illnesses. The complexity of this type of terrain cure is compensated by the opportunity to admire mountain waterfalls, lakes, and snow-capped peaks.
A separate category includes recreational walking for children, recommended at school age. Terrain cure is not recommended for young children because it’s too complicated and not interesting enough for them. Safety is a key requirement for children’s routes. To ensure it, routes for this type of therapeutic walking take place in locations devoid of steep descents and ascents. The duration of walks with primary school-age children shouldn’t exceed 40 minutes.
Organization of Classes
The benefits of terrain cure depend not only on the physical form of a person, their health, and the chosen route but also on how well the classes are organized. When organizing them, adhere to the following recommendations:
- Follow the regularity indicated by the doctor – avoid practicing too often or skipping walks.
- Choose a time of the day for walking when it’s not too hot.
- Maintain proper posture.
- Breathe evenly through the nose and avoid talking.
- For those with low physical fitness, alternate walking at a distance of 200 m with three-minute stops.
- In the early stages, take walks on flat terrain and then, after consulting your doctor, gradually increase the complexity of the route.
- Avoid engaging in terrain cure if you feel unwell, short of breath, or have a rapid heartbeat.
Clothing for such walks must meet specific requirements:
- Allow unrestricted movement.
- Fit properly.
- Be made of breathable materials that don’t hinder sweating.
Sneakers or trekking boots are ideal as footwear.
Walking Pace and Pulse
Terrain cure classes require monitoring your pulse during the following periods:
- Before the class.
- During the walk.
- After its completion.
During the walk, your pulse should increase by 10-15 beats relative to the pre-training indicator. Five minutes after the end of the therapeutic walk, the pulse should return to its pre-walk rate.
To maximize the benefits of terrain cure, it’s essential to choose the right walking pace. Using a heart rate sensor is advisable to determine your maximum value as follows:
- Subtract your age from the number 220.
- Find suitable values for the average intensity.
- Moderate load corresponds to 50-70% of the highest heart rate.
Before increasing the intensity of walking, focus on gradually increasing the duration of walks by 5-10 minutes every 7-10 days for 1-1.5 months. Only after this period should you transition to an intense walking pace.