While many people absolutely love hiking, there are plenty of people that are not so keen, sometimes it’s because of illness, or there’s not enough time, but for some, the main problem is not being fit enough.
Here at Outdoor Revival, we’re often encouraged to stay fit, get out and enjoy the great outdoors, so we’re lucky here as we’re involved in a subject that encourages us to get out and make the most of outdoor opportunities, but many are not so lucky.
When you are unfit and or overweight it’s easy to become tired or even injured, so there’s a need to be cautious and also realistic.
There’s a good chance that if you’re unfit, you will be too tired or too uncomfortable to complete the entire hiking trail. Don’t despair though; it is possible to compromise and also possible to change things so you can get the most from being outdoors.
While many people look forward to the downhill parts of a trail, those who are not in the best shape find this harder than going uphill. This is because, because of the gravity’s momentum, they have to work harder to stop themselves from falling forward and they use their leg muscles a lot more to do this.
A great way to train for hills is to walk a lot. Start off slowly and on a level path and then increase the amount of hills that you walk, be cautious as you don’t want to injure yourself but also you need to push yourself, having aching muscles is a good sign! If you’ve got a big hike coming up get out weeks before and start walking and build up to the hike.
You need to get your heart in shape for a good hike; it needs to be able to pump your blood around your body and deliver all that oxygen to your muscles. This is important as your muscles are going to be working hard.
Walking on an incline is a good way to get your heart working harder and fitter, it will also help build strength and endurance into your legs.
It’s good to do some other exercises for your legs as well, squats are great for strength and will help you get up and down those hills.
Another leg workout you can do is something called a ‘step up – step down’. This will work your thighs both in the front and the back, as well as train the butt and calves. If it’s easy then pick up some weights to increase resistance, it will make a huge difference.
Carrying a pack can be hard work, so you also need to have a strong upper body as well as legs, one exercise for this is Shrugs. To do a shrug, you need to hold dumbbells at their side while standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. While letting your arms hang down, you need to lift your shoulders up towards your ears and backward. This will help develop strength in your shoulders and upper back and you’ll be able to hike with less effort.
Stretching is very important when doing any workout, that includes your walking and hiking. Many people work out a lot, but the one glaring mistake they tend to make is that they do not stretch enough before, during and after. People do not look at stretching as something important because it is not lifting weights and, technically, it does not really make you stronger. Yet stretching can go a long way toward making sure your muscles recover well and stay injury free.
It’s very important to have good core strength, so situps, pushups, etc. will be a huge help in feeling strong and able to hike.
There are loads of people that would like to hike more, or even get out and do a bit of hiking, but they can’t or don’t because they don’t feel in good enough shape, if that’s you, then get out and have a go, start off slow and take it easy, build up to it and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you adapt and get stronger and more able.
It’s good to get out with friends as well, they will help and encourage you. So, don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own, involve other people.
Getting out into the wilds, breathing fresh air and using your body will add years to your life…
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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.
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