Bushwalkers demonstrate fitness ascending a rockface

Bushwalking is an activity that requires a moderate level of fitness if you are to enjoy it.

Before going on a bushwalk or hike it is important to discuss the proposed route with the leader, giving them a realistic picture of your fitness level and experience. Don’t be offended if the leader recommends an easier walk. The leader is thinking of your safety and the safety of the group.

Be realistic about your fitness level. Bushwalks can last from an hour to two, to a full day or multiple day hike. An over-optimistic self-assessment of your ability to complete a bushwalk can lead at best to an unpleasant walking experience and at worst to a rescue operation.

Start easy. Read the club’s guidelines on their grading system carefully and choose a short walk with an easy grade. Bushwalking is different to walking in suburban streets. Tracks can be uneven and steep. Even if you walk the dog daily you will find a bushwalk more tiring than you expect. You can’t leave a bushwalk early if you have overestimated your fitness level, so err on the side of caution.

Complete a number of easy and moderate bushwalks before attempting harder grades.

If you want to try overnight pack walking, practice carrying a full pack on some day walks first to test your ability and fitness.

If you are considering completing challenging treks such as the Kokoda Track in New Guinea ask your doctor for a medical fitness assessment, do some research on the walking conditions, consult the fitness instructor at your gym, and plan an intensive fitness regime for at least three months prior to departure.

If the activity is at high altitude, such as in Nepal, a higher level of fitness is required as the body labours in low oxygen levels.

Prior to booking an organised walking holiday it is essential to read the activity descriptions and pre-departure information carefully, to assess your ability and fitness to complete the activity.