Why Hiking is great for your health, weight loss and De-stressing
Hiking is a great way to get healthy, lose weight and to let go of all the stresses we experience in our every day lives. Hiking is a great way of keeping fit, to have a healthy heart and set of lungs, it exercises all the muscles especially when used in conjunction with walking poles and over rough terrain. It can burn up to 500 yes 500 calories per hour and the pleasure in being out in wild places lets us free our minds of the everyday worries and we start to find a peace come over us that we cannot access in the cities. All of a sudden the only important things that matter when hiking is navigating yourself along the trail, breathing in the fresh air and absorbing the wonderful panoramas.
Importance of Physical & Mental preparation
Hiking is a very different form of exercise and at the easiest level could be hiking through some woodland trails to the hardest level which may see you want to take on one of the great hikes of the world – Tour du Mont Blanc, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu or maybe Everest base camp. No matter what level you are at or want to start from you need to have some preparation first, Mentally and Physically, the reasons for this are simple 1) You need to be able to complete your hike 2) the disappointment at not being able to complete your hike 3) being fit enough to enjoy your hike not just to struggle through it. Ok lets start with answering the question
What exercise should you do to prepare for hiking
Hiking is a very cardiovascular exercise and you need good endurance when going on a big hike especially if going to a mountainous area. For six to seven hours of walking up and down hills you will need that endurance to keep going and the strength in your legs for all the ups and downs over rough terrain. Not forgetting that you will need to have good shoulder and back strength to carry your backpack and a good lung capacity so what can we do?
Actually one of the best exercises for hiking is walking. Every day if you can you should benefit for this fabulous free exercise, if you live close to where you work walk instead for example if you live just one mile away from your work place by walking there and back that’s two miles a day. Start walking around your local woods and parks increasing the duration and distance each time, if you already have your walking poles use them as it means you are using your shoulders and arms more as well.
Swimming and cycling are fantastic ways to help prepare for going hiking and are low impact exercises that do not damage your joints. I do suggest walking with a backpack and boots on but I will get to that later. Another great exercise that can really help for when you go hiking and burns lots of calories by itself is walking up and down lots of flights of steps as this almost mimics what you will probably be doing on hiking trails. Never forget to do simple stretches when you have finished your exercises as well.
This for me is quite an easy one, lots of people get really worked up how to mentally prepare for a good hike – the answer is easy! Set yourself achievable goals from the very start. Take it slow and build upon your confidence, as this way it will always be fun and you will always want to carry on and to do more.
Equipment and its benefits
To finish I would just like to touch on equipment
Boots – you need good quality hiking boots that fit your feet properly, take the time to go to a good outdoor retailer and get some fitted properly and where them from day 1 on all your training walks so by the time you go hiking they are worn in and comfortable to wear all day.
Backpack – Men and women’s backs and hips are shaped differently, again go and get one that is fitted to your back properly, try it on in the shop with weight inside it to see how it feels, it will pay dividends when out hiking. A 30 – 35-litre backpack should see you ok for almost every day hike you will do.
Hydration bladders – These are great for drinking as they sit inside your backpack with a tube that comes out the top (most backpacks are bladder compatible nowadays) that you drink from, this way you are constantly drinking while hiking instead of having a water bottle in your backpack that you only drink from when you stop and take your backpack off.
De-hydration is a big problem with so many people that hike and it could really ruin your day.
If you wish to ask me any questions about hiking or trekking then please drop me a line!