Fitness wellness super hike: Preikestolen, Norway.

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Took a trip to Norway this weekend to do a group exercise workshop in Sandnes near Stavanger. Hubby suggested a morning photo outing, which turned out to be a bucket item list, which I did not know I had to have …

Preikestolen or Prekestolen, or Preacher’s Pulpit or Pulpit Rock, a steep
and massive cliff 604 m (1982 ft) above Lysefjorden in Ryfylke, Norway.
One of the most popular tourist attractions of Stavanger.

My husband had seen a picture of Preikestolen, which he wanted to photograph. I knew of it, but reckoned it to be out of our immediate way. However he persisted.
So at around 7:30 in the morning, right after we had gotten of the ferry from Denmark, we took the Norled ferry from Stavanger to Tau, 30-40 minutes of sailing (time tables at norled.no). From Tau we drove by car towards Sandnes along route 13 for 30 km. We followed the signs to the Preikestolen parking (expensive), which is 270 meters a.s.l.

My husband had read on the internet, that it was a 1 hour walk (2 hour return trip) to get to the Preikestolen. Seemed realistic enough for a 3.8 km (2.4 mile) walk.
However, as we found out ourselves – and from later reading other descriptions on the internet, surprise: The trip takes 2-3 hours out and 2-3 hours back.
A little less if you are very fit and a whole lot longer if you are unfit. The ‘walk’ is highly inadvisable, if you have any kind of disability or very short legs.

Preikestolen map Norge foto Marina Aagaard

The path is mostly gravel and rocks and some steps, which are really rugged rocks.  In a few places there is just the bare rock or in 3-4 places wooden paths. In some places it can be hard to see, where you are going, but look for red T’s painted on the rocks.

Preikestolen Norway foto Marina Aagaard

Preikestolen lake Norway foto Marina Aagaard

Outbound the walk is mostly up-hill by steep rock boulders interrupted by just a few flat parts. The ascent has a 330 m (1080 feet) height difference. And apart from one place only there are no railings. Going down is almost as difficult, because you have to watch your steps carefully in order not to slip on or step between the rocks.

P Path and tree  Photos of path and stairs …P Path   P Stairs P Sten i vand   P Top rocksidePreikestolen plateau Norway foto Marina Aagaard

You are strongly advised to 1) go out very early in order to get back before the dark), 2) wear proper hiking/climbing shoes and also 3) bring a snack and some water.

There are no bars or restaurants (or toilets) along the way … and there is no easy way down (no steps or escalators), so save some energy. In rainy weather (my luck), the rocks are very slippery, so extra attention is needed.

P Crevasse P Fjord View from top

It is a strenuous walk to the top, so some celebrate arrival in style: Champagne!
(Though I think it is unwise to go overboard, if you want a safe return …).

P Champagne

It is hard to see, but at least I know, that it is me … just a tiny bit uneasy … standing there close to the edge at Preikestolen, 600 m (1970 ft) straight above Lysefjorden:

Marina Aagaard at Preikestolen Norway foto Henrik Elstrup

There is a wonderful view of Lysefjorden and surrounding mountarins, but just as good: It is an absolutely magnificent and exciting hike, and excellent exercise – outdoor fitness – too!

This walk/hike is highly recommended, nature at its very best; dramatic and intense.
And if you can’t get to Preikestolen, then just take a walk and a big inhale.

What a wonderful world.

Weekend Wellness Walk: Get Up, Get Out, Get Well

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Easter time is holiday time for some. If time and money is tight, a day trip or two to a place near you, preferable one you have not visited before, is an o.k. holiday travel substitute. As always it is good to grab the chance of getting some free exercise; going for a run or brisk (as in heavy breathing) walk. I did.

Weekend weather was wonderful … and springtime was in the air and colours everywhere. The small national park of Mols Bjerge (Bjerge means Mountains, but they are really just small hills), Jutland, Denmark, and surroundings, was waking up after ‘hibernation’ and is, I think, well worth a visit and a walk.
Outdoor fitness at its best behaviour.

Mols Bjerge tree photo Marina Aagaard

Kaloe kroget treeKaloe grene himmel distantKaloe skovbund blomsterdaekkeKaloe traerThorsager skovbundMols kidMarina Aagaard og Kaloe slotsruin photo Henrik ElstrupTrees and water black and white Henrik Elstrup and Marina Aagaard

Kaloe gren artLast three photos by husband Henrik Elstrup going overboard with filters,
lenses and photoshopping. This is quite popular on 500 px, though …

Happy outdoor fitness workout, where ever you are.

Neighbourhood Nature Watch: A Fall Wellness Walk

Marina Aagaard, MFE

In between working and travelling there is time for a little home time. Not home time on the couch, but daily dog walks for fresh air inhalation and basic movement. It is physical fitness activity with a low level of intensity, but a high level of wellness, mindfulness and mental benefits.
Everyone should go out and ‘go green’ … or red, brown, yellow in the fall.

Rosenholm Slot Efterår Photo Henrik Elstrup

From todays walk in the vicinity, the area around Rosenholm Slot (Castle), Jutland Denmark: Recreation ground Iver Kilde (spring) from 1900 with a  deer park long gone, grotto, well, fishpond  and arbor, in the midst of a small wood with paths and bridleways.

 Efteraarsskov og hjulspor    Efteraarsskov Fall Fish pond with reflection at Ivers Kilde Rosenholm Photo Marina Aagaard

Aging fish pond with reflection. Water and sky image with some fall decor.

Granskov smal      Granskov

Fir trees supply a splash of green. Green is a soothing colour. Nature is medicine.

Ivers Kilde Rosenholm Fall wood with lake reflection Photo Marina Aagaard

Mesmerizing mirror images as seen in a forrest lake.

Mos       Træer   Stump with moss in fall wood Photo Marina Aagaard

Moss, moss and more moss. Nature’s own plush carpet.

Hey, you, what are you waiting for?
Your Nature is right outside your door.
Go out, get well, feel better, than before.

Bitten By a Bad Bug? Walk Around the Block

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

So it is that time of year … summer holiday aka recovery period is long gone.
It is getting cold and the cold is getting you (me). Or worse: You are bitten by a bad bug or caught by a feverish flu. A sorry scenario: Too sick to eat, sleep and work out?!
No way! If you are low on power, a good old walk may do the trick:

Walking is man’s best medicine
Hippocrates, physician (460-377 BC)

Mols Bjerge Nationalpark Danmark foto Marina Aagaard

I took a walk in the neighbourhood; Mols Bjerge National Park, Denmark.

Walking has numerous health benefits and a lot less risk of overuse injury, than e.g. running.

  • Walking at low, slow, speed stimulates mindfulness and stress reduction. An excellent activity every once in a while, even for hardcore exercisers,
  • Walking at regular speed provides limited cardiovascular exercise, but if the walk is long enough, you will still burn some calories – apart from getting healthier.
  • Walking with increased speed, powerwalking, and interval walking with regular intervals or fartlek, e.g. walking on hills and stairs, will improve your stamina; how much depends on initial fitness level.

Lately, I have been taking quite a few walks around the block – or rather neighbourhood –
to curb and chip away an evil cough … #¤”&//=?@£${{@£!!!

It serves as mind-body travelling, too. Walking, travelling, at a moderate pace doubles as active meditation and you have time to observe all things small and great … you are observant in a leisurely way, a bit like being on holiday (travelling): Like!

Go walk.

A few fall walk snapshots from down the road (2 km): A typical Danish holiday area by one of many small beaches at the eastern part of Jutland peninsula, mainland Denmark:

Holiday houses Følle Strand Danmark photo Marina Aagaard

Holiday area Følle Strand Danmark photo Marina Aagaard

Ugelbølle beach holiday area fall afternoon photo Marina Aagaard

I can’t help it … taking photos of nature’s wonderful sunsets (soooo predictable).

Time travelling for body and mind: Riga, Latvia.

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

On a very recent four-day trip to Riga, the capital and largest city of Latvia (696,600 inhabitants), a birthday present from my husband, I kept fit mainly by walking the streets for hours and hours; when you are interested in architecture and design, there is a lot to see in Riga, the European Capital of Culture, 2014:
Interesting buildings, museums and structures (photo: Vansu Bridge) of many time periods including incredible art noveau buildings and wooden houses.
Save some cab money; a (brisk) walk is great for the heart and weight maintenance. 

Riga Vansu bridge photo Marina Aagaard

Riga roof with large cat sculpture photo: Marina Aagaard and Henrik Elstrup

The art nouveau area is the largest in Europa, maybe the World, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is definately worth seeing: It is like being in another time.

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup
Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik ElstrupRiga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup and Marina AagaardRiga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik ElstrupRiga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup

The wooden houses found in several areas of the city, some seemingly disintegrating and others recently restored, are also unique and recognized by UNESCO.

Riga wood houses UNESCO photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga wood houses UNESCO photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga tram and wood houses photo: Marina Aagaard and Henrik Elstrup

Riga wood houses UNESCO photo Henrik Elstrup

Hairdressing and beauty salon in Riga …

Riga skønhedssalon

And some more modern houses with roofs a little less ordinary ………………….

Riga tag kænguruRiga wood houses modern house photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga is not only for art and architecture lovers. It is also for party people (and some say for people looking for a date) with lots of clubs, bars and restaurants.

I can vouch for the restaurants: Everywhere I had a meal, the food was good, and especially so at the Biblioteka No1 (French/European) and Monterosso (Italian).

Riga Biblioteka Mushroom salad photo Marina Aagaard           Riga Biblioteka Beetroot ravioli photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Monterosso spinach ravioli photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Monterosso Haute Cuisine Lasagne photo Marina Aagaard 

Good food and a comfy bed aka wellness.
What more do you need?

The comfy bed was at a modern and reasonably priced hotel some 5 km away from the city centre; Name came as no surprise: Elefant hotel!

Riga Elefant elefant side

Eat. Work. Eat. Work out. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
And some travelling seeing sights, that’s neat …

Bon appetite!

Express Fitness # 1: Interval Training For Travel or Home

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Stay fit and healthy without wasting time. Even if you are travelling, on holiday or have a busy life with little time for exercising, you need to take care of your health, the foundation of fitness, wellness and performance. The good news is, that you can have great results with minimal time investment. The number one option is:

  • Interval training (yes, it’s for you, no, it’s not just for athletes)

Interval running for travel fitness or home fitness

Interval running on the Zaton Holiday Resort, Croatia, (soft) running track. Nice .

Interval training
As the saying goes: With interval training you will double your results in half the time!
Or something to that effect …
The definition: A series of repetitions of a work period (higher intensity) followed by a rest period (low intensity).

The (active) rest periods are crucial to succes; you need to recover in order to put just as much energy into the next work period: So no push-ups etc. during rest periods, that is not interval training. 

More and more recent research points to interval training for just 3-4 minutes per time/week as enough for becoming healthy and fit and even loose weight.
In reality, though, this is too little, as you need 1) a warm-up and cool-down and 2) to train at higher intensities, than most will be able to, to get the mentioned results.

Interval training is, however, the number one way to get fit fast for everybody. Interval training is not just very high intensity training. It is interval work at intensities higher than during continuus exercise. This means, that exercising just a little harder than you normally do will work!
Of course, if you are in shape, you should work at high intensity to get even better results.

There are numerous ways to do interval training and it can be tailor-made to meet specific needs. You can have short intervals or long intervals or fartlek, various speeds and intensities. All intervals, though, will improve your cardiovascular fitness and body composition.

If you are new to interval training try these super-easy sample programs:

  • 5 repetitions: 1 : 1 min., e.g. jog for 1 minute, walk for 1 min.: 10 min. ex. warm-up.
  • 10 repetitions: 30 : 30 sec., e.g. jog for 30 sec., walk 30 sec.: 10 min. ex. warm-up.

Or:

  • From lamppost/tree to lamppost/tree: Run/jog/powerwalk as fast as you can.
    Then walk, focus on breathing, to the next lamppost/tree. Repeat 5-20 times.

Try it. What do you think?

Airport Fitness

An airport is an interesting place to be, though it is a time stealer.

To me to travel is not just about the final destination, but very much the sensations of the journey itself; the hustle and bustle of airports, ports and stations, to watch people of many nationalities with very different looks and attitudes pass by, and to listen to the sounds and to feel the movements of cars, busses, trains, planes, ships, while watching the ever-changing sky, landscapes and seascapes.

Kastrup lufthavn 2Excitement is building … check-in information at Copenhagen Airport, May, 2013 (iPhone snapsnot for true ‘being-on-the move-not-paying-too-much-attention-to-quality-look’).


Back at the airport: If you often spend time there, waiting or moving from terminal to terminal, why not optimize your journey and your health?
These strategies work ‘at home’, too.

Airport fitness

  • Stay on your feet, e.g. stand, as much as possible. Do not sit too much, as it is true: It is a killer. And apart from being very bad news health-wise, the buttocks will take the shape of chair seats!
  • Walk, don’t stand, on the airport conveyor belts and escalators. You will improve metabolic fitness and maintain weight even with small positive changes, e.g. walking instead of standing.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator (when you have dropped off heavy suitcases); take the stairs as often as possible. It is great for fitness. Extended stair stepping improves muscle strength-endurance and cardiovascular fitness. 

Happy feet … (and legs and core and heart).