Training for a Day Hike
Are you a hiking beginner or someone that hasn’t been out hiking since last season? Then you might be need to train a bit before hitting the hiking trails once the sunny weather makes an appearance. You want to let your body know that you’re going to be pushing it beyond the casual afternoon stroll.
Here are some tips to get your body in shape:
- Go on out for a walk two or three times during the week. Now don’t just leisurely stroll around the neighborhood or treadmill, you’ll want to make sure you are moving briskly enough to get your heart rate up, and then keep it up for at least 30 minutes.
- Be sure to wear the same shoes that you’ll be wearing on your hike. A sure-fire way to get blisters is to walk for a long time in shoes you haven’t worn in a long time (or at all).
- Carry a lightly-weighted daypack on your weekday walks. That way, you’ll make sure you’re prepared to tote your essential gear.
Basic Hiking Fitness Tips
Two of the most common hiking injuries are ankle rolling and ankle sprains. If you’re out of shape or just haven’t been active for a while, start with some basic exercises to warm up your muscles and get your heart rate up.
Run or walk in sand
It builds the muscles that protect your knees and ankles.
Build range of motion
Get a resistance band to strengthen your muscles through their full extension. Standing on a tennis ball or balance disc is great for this too as it builds the small stabilizer muscles around the ankle and knee.
Building your core strength will help you keep your balance on uneven surfaces.
Squats and lunges
Keep your back straight and take each squat and lunge slowly to strengthen your core muscles.
Good upper body strength (especially in your back) will serve you well on long trips where you need to carry a heavier pack.
Getting this is as easy as walking on a trail. (City-dweller? Hitting the treadmill or stationary bike at your local gym works too.) Whichever you choose, make sure to get your heart rate up. This will help build your lung capacity so you can hike longer.
Before a backpacking trip, weight your pack (use 20 lbs. to start) and step up onto a park bench 16 to 18 inches high. Add 5 pounds a week until your pack is as heavy as it will be on your hike. To prepare for an extended, multi-day hike, do this exercise three times a week until you can do 700 steps in less than 30 minutes.
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