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? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:02 am
by CarpeDM
I came across this article in my news feed this morning.

Yes, I know this is just N=1. And I also know that the media often misinterprets research or hypes it prematurely. No, I do not have any degree related to biology (although I am an analyst in the healthcare industry). No, I am not asking anyone to draw conclusions from this. It is clearly too early for that. But I thought folks on this board might find this to be an interesting topic, and it might stimulate thoughts among the through-hikers and people who have more subject matter knowledge than I do:

https://www.backpacker.com/news-and-eve ... ling-find/

Key quotes:

"Before his departure . . . the data showed a picture of an athletic young man in his prime . . . Heinbockel’s thru-hike went off without any major issues . . . He reached the Canadian border in 112 days, about a month faster than most hikers take to finish the PCT . . . Heinbockel’s brachial artery flow-mediated dilation . . . had dropped by more than 25%, while his aortic stiffness had risen by 5%, changes associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke."

Re: ? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:08 am
by jmanner
These ultra events are hard on your body. Reason these ultra guys end up getting chronic fatigue syndrome.

Re: ? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 10:12 am
by justiner
The article surmises it was the lack of nutritious food he ate while hiking, not the hiking itself, that created the negative impacts to his health. It also said it's easily reversible. The suggestion was to eat better on 0 days.

Re: ? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 10:30 am
by CarpeDM
justiner wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 10:12 am The article surmises it was the lack of nutritious food he ate while hiking, not the hiking itself, that created the negative impacts to his health. It also said it's easily reversible. The suggestion was to eat better on 0 days.
Yes, Justin, that is important information that I probably should have highlighted in my quotes. Also, I *suspect* that *most* folks who are thru-hiking something like the PCT would likely be the kind of folks who would also watch what they eat when not thru-hiking. Still, I do think that it's interesting that the thru-hike did not have the effect that most would presume it would have.

Edit: See there, my language was not the best. I may have given the mistaken impression I believe that, in a sample of 1, the thru-hike was the *cause* of the observed physiological changes.

Re: ? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 10:42 am
by justiner
yeah but still n=1.

Re: ? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:02 pm
by blazintoes
In studies like these, consider the source and sample size. Overuse of the cardiovascular system can cause a systemic inflammatory response.
This is a great article from a trusted resource: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6589963/

Rest is good!

Re: ? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:45 pm
by dpage
justiner wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 10:12 am The article surmises it was the lack of nutritious food he ate while hiking, not the hiking itself, that created the negative impacts to his health. It also said it's easily reversible. The suggestion was to eat better on 0 days.
The Home Place in Catawba VA is one of the more visited restaurants by AT thru hikers because of the family style all you can eat southern cooking offered there. 20 miles north on the trail thru hikers often hit the pizza buffet that's about 20 yards from the trail. If these are common on days that aren't zeros, I hate to imagine what a zero day's meal plan looks like.

Re: ? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 2:18 pm
by stephakett
i saw this article the other day and didn’t read it because i don’t need the negativity while prepping for the CT, but i did go through it today and it makes A LOT of sense.

thru-hiking communities and forums are predominantly full of folks who suggest the highest possible calorie intake for the lowest weight when thru hiking, so yeah. this article makes sense and i don’t think the sample is skewed.

i am working on my resupply boxes right now and my diet is going to be similar to 14er outings: less focused on high calorie/high sugar garbage like pop tarts and tortillas, and more concentrated on taking care of my macros with things like granola, nuts, and dried fruits. fewer backpacking meals filled with preservatives and more at-home assembly of dried veggies, broths, olive/coconut oils, freeze dried chicken, etc. as well as daily multivitamins and extra electrolytes, supplemented with meal replacement shakes.

if you eat like trash, your body will turn into trash, both on and off-trail.

Re: ? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:04 pm
by cottonmountaineering
The article was a bit silly, eat some green things

Re: ? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:05 pm
by cottonmountaineering
Pretty much every thru hiker I met on the pct would load up with heavy fruits and veg for the first day out of town, not super hard to eat well on long traila, but some people become obsessed with weight and that's where it becomes a problem

Re: ? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:26 pm
by headsizeburrito
dpage wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:45 pm The Home Place in Catawba VA is one of the more visited restaurants by AT thru hikers because of the family style all you can eat southern cooking offered there.
Sadly Homeplace closed: https://www.wsls.com/news/local/2020/10 ... efinitely/

I tried to go there when I lived in VA and did the Virginia Triple Crown loop (https://old.reddit.com/r/VIRGINIA_HIKIN ... nd_photos/), but it was closed that day. Then shortly afterwards it closed for good. :(

Re: ? negative health effects of thru-hiking ?

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 5:50 pm
by dpage
headsizeburrito wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:26 pm
dpage wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:45 pm The Home Place in Catawba VA is one of the more visited restaurants by AT thru hikers because of the family style all you can eat southern cooking offered there.
Sadly Homeplace closed: https://www.wsls.com/news/local/2020/10 ... efinitely/

I tried to go there when I lived in VA and did the Virginia Triple Crown loop (https://old.reddit.com/r/VIRGINIA_HIKIN ... nd_photos/), but it was closed that day. Then shortly afterwards it closed for good. :(
Fingers crossed. The message on their voicemail says they are hoping to open this year. Maybe the thru hiking bubble won't miss out.