Hiking is a low-impact sport and great for anybody who is looking for a workout that can offer more than just exercise. You also get fresh air and a chance to reconnect with nature. You can hike with friends, join a hiking club to meet other hikers or just enjoy the solitude and serenity that nature has to offer. As a hiking guide, I love getting people into the sport and showing them little tips that can make a huge difference.
The fat-burning zone is 60% of your maximum heart rate and the cardio zone, or the zone where you condition your lungs, is 80% of your maximum heart rate. When hiking, you can go in between different zones and get an all-around workout.
Depending on the trail, you can challenge yourself with varied surfaces. A paved trail is good for fast walking and will give you a chance to get fresh air while maintaining a steady pace without having to pay too close attention to where you are stepping. A natural trail will give you a different workout where your leg and core muscles work a little harder to maintain balance while propelling you forward. Trails with rocks and roots will keep you lifting your legs, providing a great conditioning workout for your hips, core muscles and knees.
Elevation gain will vary your workout since you will be getting a cardio workout on the way up and a muscle toning workout on your way down. It’s important to not push yourself too hard when beginning hill hikes or you may experience sore legs, especially calves, as those muscles work extra hard to get you up the hill. Using smaller steps to go uphill is like using a lower gear on a bicycle. It’s more important to shift gears so that you can have a longer workout and not have to sit down to catch your breath.
Get out there and join in on the fun. You can even raise money to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by joining a team fundraiser that goes on a hike adventure. You’ll be assigned a team coach and can meet up with teammates in your local area to train. Then later in the season join a national hike adventure where you meet hikers from all over the country. Learn more at: http://www.teamintraining.org/firsttimehere/sportprograms/hikeadventures
Hiking is an all-around conditioning sport that offers opportunities to reconnect with nature, meet interesting people and even raise money for cancer research.
Straight From A Guide – Tips For The Beginner Hiker:
– Wear comfortable shoes that provide good ankle and foot support. It’s worthwhile to invest in a supporting foot bed. These keep your feet working in a balanced motion. When your feet are supported, it helps to protect your knees, hips and back. Affordable foot beds can be found at outdoor outfitters. Two of my favorite brands that I use on a regular basis include Down Under Insoles and Superfeet. A good outfitter will be able to show you the type of foot bed you may want to use.
– Start every hike at a very slow pace and gradually increase to your regular pace. This will warm up your muscles and help with balance. It’s also important to ease your heart into exercise rather than stress it too much really fast.
– Stretch when you are warmed up. Stretching is important to do 15-30 minutes into hiking. Since ankles can’t really be stretched, just put them through a full range of motion to increase blood flow in the ligaments. A good way to do this is by writing your name with your toes. Find a place to sit and extend your leg. Keeping your heel stable, move your foot around to write your name with your toes. Do this a few times for each foot. Other stretches that are important for hikers are ones that will stretch the front part of your leg. Depending on your flexibility, you can bend your knee and hold your foot behind you so that the front part of your leg feels a slight stretch. If you can’t reach your foot, you can place it on a rock, stump or hill behind you and let gravity stretch the front part of your leg. If you can’t feel a stretch, step forward to put more distance between your front foot and your back foot.
– If you are on a hike that lasts more than an hour, it’s a good idea to take regular short breaks. These breaks enable the body to cycle through most of the lactic acid the muscles produce that lead to soreness. Plan on breaking for 5 minutes every 30-45 minutes when hiking uphill and every 45 minutes to an hour when hiking down. Not only do these breaks give your muscles a rest, they give you a chance to drink water and replace electrolytes with a small snack. On longer hikes, it’s much easier on your body and you will have longer endurance by staying hydrated and giving your body energy throughout the hike. Many people are used to hiking for a long period of time and then breaking to eat lunch. Stiffness will occur after the meal and later in the day because you didn’t give your body a chance to catch up throughout the workout. The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine suggests that “you won’t start feeling thirsty until you have already lost about 2% of body weight–enough to hurt performance. Also, if you stop drinking water once your thirst is satisfied, you will get only about half the amount you need.”
– Use trekking poles. These are great for rocky or steep trails. Used the correct way, trekking poles help me maintain balance, especially when there are big step-downs or creek crossings on a trail. I’ve gotten so used to using them that I no longer need to look down at the trail. I keep them out in front of me in a flicking motion with my wrists and they help me sense the ground, allowing me to keep an eye on what’s ahead should there be a bird, a deer or even a bear. I consider them to be a part of my emergency medical equipment as well because they could be used to splint a broken leg or as a crutch. At the end of a hike, my knees feel much better when I use trekking poles.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team In Training