Whether you're planning your vacation around it, or you just want a change of workout routine or scenery, then hiking fits the bill. There are a few things to consider, however, before you start out.
Hiking can be quite a workout—different from what you’re used to. If you've never hiked or it’s been a while since you have, then remember that walking and climbing on uneven or unfamiliar terrain will work muscle groups that may have not been challenged the same way your “normal” workout does. Especially if you're hiking up any type of incline, then it will significantly intensify your aerobic workout while burning more calories. So, prepare yourself! That brings us to the next point.
You can help prepare for hiking with yoga, cardio and strength training. When you are on the hiking trails, your body will most likely be required to exhibit balance, strength, flexibility and more at various times and under a variety of circumstances. For example, you may need to go up a steep incline or balance yourself on uneven terrain. You may even have to navigate around some boulders or other nature-made obstacles. Performing yoga and other stretching can help prep your body for what hiking demands of it. Performing squats and other lower-body strengthening that can support muscle strength, while step aerobics or the stair-climber at the gym can help prepare you for some hiking moves. Spinning classes can help with your cardio fitness levels.
Start out slowly, and hike with friends or a hiking group. You want hiking to be enjoyable, so be sure to go slow to “test the waters.” Try a short hike on fairly level terrain to begin with. Then work up from there—time-wise and incline-wise. Also, hiking with family or friends is not only more fun, but it can also be safer. You can also choose to join a local hiking group.
Be smart with what you wear and what you pack. A good pair of hiking boots is worth the investment. They not only can keep you and your ankles steady in difficult terrain, but they can also guard you against the elements. Be sure to break them in ahead of time, though. Also, carry a water bottle and healthy, non-perishable snacks. You’ll also want to know what the weather forecast is, so that you’re not stuck or in danger should the weather change quickly.
So, what are you waiting for? Go take a hike!
In order to avoid risk of injury, please seek advice directly from your physician, especially if you have existing medical issues, before beginning any exercise or nutritional program. Also, be sure to stretch after exercise to avoid muscle and joint tightness.