what is it, health benefits, how to do it

Walking is used in medical practice to improve the body and prevent many diseases. For this type of filler, a special name appeared – “terrenkur”. In this article, we’ll explain how to get the most out of the health trail and why it’s a great option for those recovering from injury.

What is Terrenkur

The origin of the method is European, but foreign sources of information know little about it, while in domestic sanatoria the health course is an obligatory attribute of recovery.

The word “terrenkur” itself is made up of the French terrain – terrain and the German kur – treatment, that is, literally “treatment by area”. Terrenkur is a measured walk in uneven terrain on marked routes with a gradual increase in physical activity.

The health trail is usually carried out under the supervision of a doctor, although now the meaning of this word has absorbed a little more than the original, and now the health trail is more often understood as marked routes for walking therapeutic. So here you can meet not only patients who are prescribed such walks, but also healthy people who want to increase their physical activity.

How did the terrenkur appear

The healing method on foot began to be mastered in the middle of the 19th century in Europe. Doctors at the time noticed that walking in the mountainous climate had a positive effect on the health of patients.

This method of treatment was named and structured by German physician Max Ertel in 1885. He prescribed walking for overweight patients. It was he who coined the term “terrenkur” and described the need to dispense walks according to pace, distance and angle of inclination. Ertel was the first to lay paths according to his method, and later the European stations, where Ertel’s paths worked among others, became known as Terrain Kurorte.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the path to health came to Russia, namely in Kislovodsk, where in 1901 the doctor NN Oblonsky laid the first route of the path to health. Thanks to its location (800 meters above sea level), its climate and its natural landscape, Kislovodsk was the best suited to organize these routes.

Read more: Where to run in Kislovodsk

In the Kislovodsk park to date there is a developed system of health trails with a total length of more than 30 km. The routes are located at an altitude of 800 to 1409 meters above sea level.

In addition, there are health trails in other sanatorium resort towns: Zheleznovodsk, Essentuki, Sochi, Vladikavkaz, Gelendzhik, Anapa, Goryachiy Klyuch, Pyatigorsk, Nalchik, Belokurikha, Listvyanka.

What is a terrenkur and why is it good for health
Terrenkur in Kislovodsk. Source: okavkaze.ru

Terrenkur health benefits

Terrenkur, like running, skiing, and biking, is a cardio load. So, first of all, the health course has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. In addition, since the paths for the health trails pass in picturesque places, among the trees, such activities are useful for the nervous system.

Let’s summarize the useful properties of the fitness trail:

  • endurance development;
  • increase in motor activity of a person;
  • strengthen the muscles of the legs and back when climbing;
  • saturation of the body with oxygen;
  • visual activity with natural light;
  • psycho-emotional recovery from physical activity and the surrounding nature;
  • preservation of cognitive functions in the elderly.

For people recovering from injury and those who have done minimal physical activity so far, fitness trails are a safe and enjoyable way to get active. The health course, unlike running, has no shock load on the musculoskeletal system; unlike a bicycle, there is no chance of falling; and unlike swimming, there’s no boring pool bottom you’ll tire of admiring after 10 minutes.

Even the ancient Greeks knew that walking in nature brings order to thoughts. Thus, they created the philosophical school of the Peripatetics (from περιπατέω, meaning “to walk”), and Aristotle himself used to walk when composing his lectures.

Related: Why take 10,000 steps a day?

How is a terrenkur different from a regular walk?

You might think that walking around the city is the same path to health. However, the treatment on foot cannot take place along the dusty, gassy streets of the city: an important condition for the health course is nature and clean air. In addition, the health course as a treatment method always has a strictly defined route, exercise time, speed and breathing rhythm. All this is prescribed by the attending physician.

How is the fitness trail different from Nordic walking?

Terrenkur is shown to people for whom high and prolonged physical activity will be harmful, and Nordic walking is more demanding on human endurance. It is impossible not to say that Nordic walking requires special sticks and the possession of the technique of moving with them. Terrenkur is more like a natural walk.

Read more: A great beginner’s guide to Nordic walking

Directions for Terrenkur

Doctors recommend this method of healing to patients:

  • with respiratory diseases;
  • with pathologies of the cardiovascular system;
  • with high blood pressure;
  • with musculoskeletal disorders;
  • with digestive and metabolic disorders;
  • during recovery from prolonged illness or injury;
  • pregnant women to maintain muscle tone;
  • elderly patients who are contraindicated in heavy loads.

Depending on the condition and physical form of the patient, the load is dosed according to the length of the route, the relief, the pace and the number of rest stops.

What is a terrenkur and why is it good for health
Terrenkur in Belokurikha (Altai Territory). Source: belokurikha.ru


  • light – no more than 500 m;
  • medium – up to 1500 m;
  • high – up to 3000 m.

Walking pace:

  • slow – 60-80 steps per minute;
  • medium – 80-100 steps per minute;
  • fast – more than 100 steps per minute.

On fitness trails, people not only walk, but also combine it with breathing exercises, breathing through their nose:

  • on flat ground: 2-4 steps – inhale and 3-5 steps – exhale;
  • when lifting: 2-3 steps – inhale and 3-4 steps – exhale.

Combining walking with breathing exercises improves exercise tolerance more than just training skeletal muscles.


Despite the soft charging mode, the health course has a number of contraindications, so you should consult a specialist before starting classes. The main contraindications include:

  • exacerbation of chronic diseases;
  • fever;
  • pain of unknown etiology;
  • recent injuries.

Class rules

  1. If you have certain health conditions and find it difficult to bear the load, ask your doctor for advice on therapeutic walking. He will make a competent plan for your treatment, and then the health course will bring the maximum benefit.
  2. Follow all doctor’s recommendations and walk regularly, not with weekly breaks.
  3. Walk 1-3 times a day during the cool hours of the day.
  4. Wear clothes that don’t restrict your movements.
  5. Walk with a free stride, shoulders squared.
  6. Breathe regularly, through your nose, and do not speak, so as not to disturb the rhythm of breathing.
  7. With low physical endurance, it is recommended to make stops of up to 3 minutes every 200 m.
  8. Check pulse: before walking, during, at the end of the lesson and 5 minutes after the end of the fitness trail. During the movement, your heart rate should increase by 10-15 beats, and 5 minutes after the end return to the original one, which was before the start of the lesson.
  9. During the class you should not have shortness of breath, chest pain and rapid heartbeat.
  10. Walks start on flat ground and only with doctor’s permission, progress to more challenging routes.
  11. If you don’t feel well, stop the walk or don’t do it at all.

How to determine walking pace

Doctors believe that the best training effect is achieved with medium-intensity loads. On a flat health course, for most people, this is 4.5 to 6.5 km/h.

A more accurate way to know how much stress the body is receiving is to use a heart rate sensor. Calculate your maximum heart rate using the formula 220 minus age, then find your values ​​at medium intensity. Medium intensity load is 55-70% of maximum heart rate.

However, before increasing the intensity of your workouts, focus on volume first. For the first 4-6 weeks, increase your walking time by 5-10 minutes every 1-2 weeks and then increase the intensity and frequency.

What is a terrenkur and why is it good for health
Photo: Jordan Siemens/Getty Images. Source: nbcnews.com

How to choose a route

Choose a route based on tasks and readiness.

With low physical fitness and endurance, it is enough to walk on a flat path. For an advanced level, doctors may recommend a lighter and longer route. For extreme lovers, steep alpine health trails are suitable. On such a track, there are climbs with an angle of inclination of more than 30 degrees, ledges that must be climbed, fallen trees and a barn.

Terrenkur is also prescribed for children. In parks with a developed network of trails, there are health trails with an educational component. There, schoolchildren can not only walk, but also study information stands about the fauna and flora of this region.

Terrenkur also cross the desert or cross the territory of the sanatorium. Usually, health courses in sanatoriums are not very complex, they are equipped with auxiliary equipment (handrails, steps, benches), information boards and educational stands. In addition, the sanatorium terrenkur may have a duty instructor.

Equipment for Terrenkur

For the fitness trail, you will need comfortable sports or hiking clothes. Choose shoes depending on the complexity of the route and the weather conditions, but it is almost always sneakers or trekking boots.

Take a small backpack with you to put water and a light snack. For people who can barely move, Nordic walking poles will be good helpers. If there are a lot of annoying insects in the area, it will be useful to stock up on the bloodsucking remedy.


Thus, you have learned that the health path is useful for recovering from injuries, for the prevention of diseases of the cardiovascular system and the musculoskeletal system. Outdoor walks controlled by a doctor do not require special training and the routes pass through picturesque places.

Therefore, do not hesitate to recommend the health course to elderly parents and try it yourself to enjoy the pleasant activity in nature!

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