Expanding your weekly exercise routine with new and different physical activities is always a good idea. Incorporating hiking into your routine is smart because it burns a lot of calories and works muscles not used in the more common workouts.
Do not jump into hiking – full speed ahead. You could injure yourself. Before you make a commitment to hike five miles a day, be sure your body is ready for hiking.
How to Add Hiking to Your Exercise Routine
Start with Cardio
If you have not been exercising regularly, please, start working on your cardio before you ever go on a hike.
Try low-impact cardio, such as swimming, walking, aerobics, treadmill, stationary bike, or dumb bells. You can then add higher intensity workouts, such as kickboxing, spin class, or a high-impact cardio class at your gym.
Whatever you use, be smart about your workout. There are many resources online. Check out this website for ideas: 8 Low-impact Cardio Workouts for Beginners.
Continue doing cardio on the days when you aren’t hiking to get your body in better shape. Being in shape will give you the stamina to eventually increase the frequency and distance of your hikes. It will not take long until you will be able to handle those 5- or 10-mile hikes with no problem.
Include Weight Training
If you want to become a “respectable” hiker, you should consider improving your muscle mass. This is important because hiking uses a lot of different muscles.
Weight training should be done by everyone, whether you hike or not, so now you have a good reason to do it. A few days a week working on your core and your arms and legs will be very beneficial, not only in the beginning, but also when you are ready for those big, uphill hikes.
Ease Into Hiking
You are ready to begin, great! Please, move forward at a pace that works for your body.
For the complete novice, find nearby hiking trails that are short and relatively easy – no more than half-mile long so that you will only walk a mile total.
A one-mile hike is good distance to start. It allows your muscles and frame to get used to walking trails and you can see how your body adapts.
If there are no short, easy trails available, take a main trail (which usually starts out fairly easy), but stop after 15-20 minutes. Turn back and return the way you came. You can use the same trail and gradually increase the length of time or the distance you walk.
Another option is to start out walking trails in a nearby park, preferably dirt trails if you can find them. Walking on dirt is different than walking on sidewalks.
Get a Hiking Buddy
A good way to encourage you to keep up with your hiking plan as part of your routine is to hike with a friend. Hiking alone can be boring, so consider bringing someone with you. It is also safer to hike with a friend, just in case either of you run into a problem; and, always carry your cell phone.
Choose someone who is on the same hiking level and with the same goals: to get in shape, to lose weight, or to be healthier and feel better (mentally and physically). Don’t ask an extreme sports enthusiast to be your companion. For obvious reasons, that would not be a good match.
A regular exercise routine is a fundamental necessity for anyone who wants to stay healthy and life a long, happy life.
Start exercising today – even if it is just a 15 minute walk around the block, graduating to walking trails in the park, and eventually building up to more – including hiking in the great outdoors.