Health tourism redesigned with an innovative and cross-generational approach - this is the aim of the new project “Connect2Move: Hiking for the heart” by the Chair of Preventive Pediatrics headed by Prof. Dr. Renate Oberhoffer-Fritz. The study is being carried out internationally in Germany and Austria under the leadership of the TU Munich. The project is financed by “INTERREG”, a European Regional Development Fund Community Initiative which aims to promote cooperation between EU Member States and neighbouring non-EU countries.
In the two municipalities of Aschau in Chiemgau and Werfenweng in Salzburger Land, existing hiking trails will be re-mapped during the project period using an “open innovation” approach taking individual stress intensity into account.
The Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft (Research Association) was secured as a cooperation partner, which will mainly support the analysis of tourism demands and workshops with participating partners as well as the mathematical modelling of geo reference data in relation to physiological performance data.
As part of a joint explorative multicenter study, the Chair of Preventive Pediatrics, the St. Irmingard Clinic in Prien at lake Chiemsee and the Ludwig Boltzmann Society (Institute for Prevention and Digital Health) are working together with the Sports Medicine Institute of the Paracelsus Medical Private University of Salzburg on the establishment and evaluation of a one-kilometre long cardio trekking test trail. Furthermore, the impact categories are to be verified on an eight-kilometre long cardio trekking hiking trail in Germany and Austria.
The project is an innovative concept for health tourism which is being supported in the field of communication and marketing by Alpine Pearls, a tourism association consisting of 21 partner regions.
As part of the project, the research team is working on the development of a new service for assessing an individual's heart health and fitness. Health prevention will be redesigned in the process.
“Hiking is an ideal method for training the cardiovascular system,” explains Prof. Oberhoffer-Fritz, Dean of the Department of Sport and Health Sciences. “On the basis of heart rate control, the level of physical performance can also be increased without overloading the cardiovascular system. In this way, gradient and walking speed can be individualized, and breaks can be taken spontaneously if the load is subjectively perceived to be too great.” Sudden death due to heart failure in the mountains is the main cause of death for men aged 35 and over in the mountains. Therefore, it is important to avoid overexertion on the mountain using innovative approaches, draw attention to cardiovascular risk factors as a preventative measure and to plan the hike route in advance according to the participants' individual fitness levels.
With due consideration to the Alpine region, existing hiking trails are to be transformed into themed trails and digitally re-mapped. In addition to the usual description of the trails on the basis of length, altitude, nature or duration, the new trails will also indicate the cardiovascular stress intensity.
“The basic idea was to use portable technology, so-called wearables, to measure the paths and mark them as green, red or orange stress zones. The trails will subsequently be highlighted in their respective colour on the map corresponding to each zone,” explains project manager Dr. Birgit Böhm, Research Associate at the Chair of Preventive Pediatrics. “Of course, this coloured background must then be adjusted to the hiker's heart rate. This is very complex due to a variety of influencing factors such as the nature of the terrain, walking speed and the participant's fitness level and needs to be determined and mathematically modelled within the framework of the multicenter study described above”.
Personal performance will be assessed using mobile spiroergometry, measuring respiratory performance under exercise conditions, on a treadmill and on a hiking trail. This enables the determination of individual heart rate and training ranges.
“On the German and Austrian side, a total of 72 healthy study participants are to be included in the study,” says Dr. Birgit Böhm. Therefore, the Chair of Preventive Pediatrics is currently still looking for participants aged 45 or older without any relevant conditions of the cardiovascular system, the lungs, liver or kidney, diabetes mellitus or orthopaedic conditions affecting physical performance. The body mass index (BMI) should be below 35 kg/m2. Participants should also be able to walk safely without the use of hiking poles.
Participants will receive a free cardiological check-up including a heart ultrasound, free treadmill performance diagnostics as well as sports science insights regarding their current fitness level and, on request, personalized training recommendations. Guided intergenerational cardio walks will take place from spring 2021 to verify the mathematical model. Please contact Dr. Birgit Böhm directly by e-mail if you are interested.
Prof. Dr. Renate Oberhoffer-Fritz
Chair of Preventive Pediatrics
phone: 089 289 24571
Dr. Birgit Böhm
Chair of Preventive Pediatrics
phone: 089 289 24577
Text: Romy Schwaiger
Photos: „Connect2Move“/Chair of Preventive Pediatrics