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New UFV hiking study will track participants on treadmill, Cultus hikes

Information garnered could help inform doctors who prescribe ‘nature’ to patients
UFV researchers are starting a new study on hiking and health. (Pixabay image)

Have you ever wondered why those hiking trails marked “easy” can be such a challenge?

You’re not alone.

Researchers at the University of the Fraser Valley are launching a study that looks at the role of cardiorespiratory fitness on relative hiking intensity. They are still signing up participants and are hoping to hear from participants of all fitness levels.

Those who volunteer in the study will meet with a research assistant at the UFV campus in Chilliwack and go through a maximal oxygen consumption test on a treadmill, to find their baseline.

They will also be joined at different trails in the Cultus Lake area, where their vitals and other information will be taken at check points.

It’s a quick project for participants, meeting with the research team just three times. The information will be compiled to help guide physicians who use the Parks Prescription program for the patients.

Through a series of studies over several years, researchers like Dr. Iris Lesser have been gleaning valuable information on the physical and mental health benefits of hiking and immersing oneself in nature.

Now, they want to measure how different bodies react to hiking in real time. Hiking guides base their ratings off elevation changes, but all hikers are starting from different fitness levels.

“We therefore are aiming to learn more about how physical fitness levels impact the perception and physical challenges of hikes classified as easy or intermediate,” Lesser says.

They are getting started right away and plan to finished the first week of June.

Lesser says it’s a very short commitment, and will “force” participants to get out and complete a few hikes. She underlines that anyone can participate, whether they are athletes or if they’ve never hiked a mountain before.

Anyone who wants to participate can contact Cynthia Thomson or Iris Lesser at

READ MORE: UFV study finds women with reduced physical activity had more mental health struggles during COVID pandemic


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Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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