It’s Finally Spring Week
Day 5: Hiking
It’s the end of It’s Finally Spring Week. Have you been enjoying your freebies this week!
Yesterday’s post was a little different than my typically Friday posts – it looked at several ways to get in a workout but not a specific fitness discipline.
However, today’s post goes back to form: a deeper look into an exercise that would be suitable for beginners.
It just happens to be one of the forms of exercise mentioned yesterday – one that works well with the spring theme. Hiking!
Spring is a great time of hiking: the weather is nicer, and the trees and flowers are beautiful. It’s also a great past time to do with your family. But did you know that hiking is a nice complementary part to your regular workouts? Here are some different health benefits you can get from going on hikes.
The Health Benefits of Hiking
Better cardiovascular health: First of all, hiking makes your heart and lungs healthier. This type of workout gets your body moving and helps you to lose the extra fat at the same time. With these things combined, you can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and get the blood pumping through your heart more regularly. This can help to avoid heart disease and other major issues like stroke.
A fitter and leaner you: You’ll also notice that aside from the weight loss, you are getting more fit overall. You may also notice the development of muscles on your arms, legs, and abdominals. While you’re hiking, you use a lot of your muscles and get an excellent full-body workout. The more difficult a hiking trail is, the more muscle power it is going to use.
Mental health improvement: Hiking is great for releasing endorphins, the happy chemicals in your brain. You’ll notice that your mood lifts when you go on a hike, helping you to feel happier and less stressed. It can help with anxiety and depression, both with the physical activity and the scenery. Being outside will also boost your vitamin D levels, which is also really good for proper mental health.
Better sleep: Your insomnia may improve if you start hiking. This is due in part to the extra energy exerted through hiking, as well as the sun exposure.
Weight loss: In about an hour of hiking, the average man or woman burns between 450-500 calories. This is compared to around 300 or more with regular walking. You can also increase this calorie burn exponentially with just a few tricks. You can carry a heavier pack, choose trails with obstacles or steeper hills, or try to pump your arms more while hiking to get the muscles working and calories burning. Bringing an activity tracker really helps you to see how may calories you are burning so you know when to increase the intensity.
Adding Hiking to Your Routine
So, there are several good health reasons to take up hiking. But how do you do it? An important point to remember is that hiking is a great exercise for weight loss but not as a stand-alone activity. A good fitness routine is balanced between cardio and weight training. Here are some tips for adding hiking to your regular, everyday fitness routine.
Pace yourself: This form of exercise is that it’s not something you’ll master right away. Just like you can’t run 10 miles after never running before, you won’t be able to go on 10-mile hikes on the first day either. As you start organizing your fitness schedule, make sure you allow yourself time to adjust to hiking. Start with short hikes of just a mile or less in distance, then when you get used to those, gradually increase the length, time, and difficulty level of the hikes.
Get others involved: Another way you can add it to your fitness routine is to include others. This doesn’t have to be something you do alone, and in fact, it’s a lot more enjoyable with a friend or family member. When you start hiking, ask a friend to join you. Then, you can work out together, and possibly even add other forms of exercise to a fitness routine you do together. Teamwork is what it is all about!
Find new trails: As you begin getting more advanced in your hiking adventures, add new trails to the mix. Perhaps you want to try more incline at least one day a week, so when you are putting together your fitness routine for the following week, you will find a trail that might not be longer in distance but has more hills fin it. This’ll increase the difficulty level, but it also helps to burn more calories.
Mix in other workouts: For the hiking to truly fit into your fitness routine, you need a good balance of workouts. So, if you want to hike 2 days a week, perhaps you could hike over the weekend. Then during the week, you could have a few days where you combine other aerobic activities with weight lifting – whatever schedule works best for you. These workouts could be outside of your house, in a gym, or right in your living room.
So, now that you know how to add hiking to your workout routine, here are a few tips about what to wear and what to pack on a hike so you can be well-prepared.
What to Pack on a Hike
When you are hiking, you need to prepare beforehand by wearing the right clothing, choosing a safe trail, and making sure you have a pack with you to hold the essentials. Part of the essentials are clean water and sustenance. Here are some things to know about the importance of water and nutrition while you are hiking.
Water: First of all, water is the only way to stay hydrated while on a hike. You can drink a few glasses of water before a hike to fill up, then have about 8 ounces for every couple of hours of the hike. One bottle of water should be enough for a shorter hike but bring several bottles if you are going on a day-long hike. Everyone on the hike should bring their own water so you aren’t trying to ration it out.
Fuel: Your body requires fuel to function. If you don’t eat breakfast, then expect to go on a 10-mile hike with only water, you are going to become ill and find it very difficult to finish. You need eat beforehand, then bring food and snacks with you so that you can eat something every couple hours while you are walking.
Longer hikes/more snacks: Remember that the snacks you bring should fuel you depending on how long your hike is. So naturally if it is a day-long hike, you need to fill your pack with multiple snacks, as opposed to only a couple granola bars and some nuts for a hike that will only last a few hours. It is always a good idea to bring more than you think you will need, just in case. Also, these snacks/food need to be non-perishable such as like granola bars, beef jerky, nuts, and seeds.
Emergency supplies: You should never go on any hike, no matter how short or simple it is, without emergency supplies. Have a pack with you that can hold water, non-perishable snacks like nuts and granola bars, and a first aid kit. This can be a small version that just fits in a fanny pack, or even in your pants pocket. If you are hiking with a dog, bring supplies for them as well.
Gear for Hiking
Before you get started on your hiking adventure, you also need to be sure you’re dressed properly. Many people go on shorter, more casual hikes and wear their normal workout clothes. However, depending on the length and terrain, you might want to change your attire for certain types of hikes. Here are some tips for choosing the right clothing for your hike.
Soft, breathable fabrics: The clothing you wear is really important and shouldn’t be taken lightly. In general, wearing cotton while hiking is a good option. It is soft and breathable, so you won’t get too hot while wearing it, but it’s soft enough for the more strenuous hikes. However, if it’s a hot day or you’re afraid of sweating a lot, you don’t want to get a rash. To avoid this, choose pants that wick away moisture and keep you dry, such as Spandex. You’ll be much more comfortable during your long hike.
Hiking boots or walking shoes: The shoes you need will depend on the hike you have planned. Wearing hiking boots is good, but if it’s a short and simple one, your regular fitness shoes should be okay to start. However, if you find that your feet are sore after the first hike, it might be that the terrain’s too rough for your regular sneakers and that you need to get a good pair of hiking boots for the next time.
Hikes in cold weather: If you are going hiking in colder weather, you should try to wear layers. Don’t wear your biggest coat but choose lighter layers that are easy to walk in, but also light enough to carry in your pack if you take them off. That way, if you start warming up after a few minutes of the hike, you can pull off layers and still be okay to finish your hike.
Hats and accessories: Make sure you have moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and a hat if you need to protect your face from burning. Bring sunglasses on a bright, sunny day to protect your eyes as well.
That’s a lot of information about hiking. Hopefully, you can use it and go outside this spring with your family. Remember, though, you should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness routine.
I hope you have enjoyed the spring-themed posts this week and the freebies. Today’s freebie is a report about 10 Fitness Tips for Cyclists – but many of these tips can apply to hikers or other types of athletes.
I hope you enjoy it.
Have a great weekend!
Loving Life—The Reboot!