How to Prepare Your Body for a Hike
Hiking is one of the best ways to get fit and enjoy the outdoors. However, if you want to hike safely and comfortably, you must physically and mentally prepare. That means getting into shape before you head out on any hiking trip. Here are some things you can do to keep you safe and healthy while enjoying yourself.
It’s important to start training early. That way, you won’t feel overwhelmed by all the new equipment and techniques you’ll need to master. And you’ll avoid getting injured while trying to learn everything at once. Organize a training program at least 12 weeks before you embark on your hiking adventure. This will help you stay on track and track your progress as you prepare for your big experience.
Cardio exercise is important for any physical activity, especially hiking. When you hike, you use your legs, lungs, and heart all at once. You should work up to 30 minutes of cardio daily to stay healthy. Cardio exercises such as running, biking, swimming, and walking are great for building stamina and endurance. They also improve your overall health and prevent heart disease. But cardio alone isn’t enough to prepare you for long hikes.
Focus on strengthening your legs to get in shape for hiking. Your legs are essential for walking long distances and carrying heavy loads. For this reason, it’s important to focus on building muscle strength in your lower body. That means working your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core muscles. When you do squats, lunges, and deadlifts, you’ll build muscle mass in all of those areas. Then, add resistance bands to your workout routine. And if you’re looking to improve your balance, try doing planks, pushups, and crunches. These exercises will improve your balance and stability, making walking uphill and over uneven terrain easier.
A common problem among hikers is “hikers’ knees,” which happens when you put pressure on your knees during certain movements. For instance, when you squat down low, your knees bend forward. When you stand back up, your knees tend to lock. This causes stress on your ligaments and cartilage. Over time, this may lead to arthritis. To prevent this, target your quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings. A good way to do this is to walk quickly outside, on a treadmill, or ride a bike.
Exercising with ankle weights may also be helpful. If you have never done this exercise before, begin with five pounds. One leg is bent at a 90-degree angle. While maintaining your knee slightly flexed, slowly bring the opposite leg up to complete the movement. Then, switch legs and do it again. As a hamstring-building exercise, stand with a weighted leg behind you and raise it to a 90-degree angle. Hold for several seconds, then drop gently to the floor.
Fear is the worst adversary you can face when doing anything new. Success begins with a clear vision of what you want to accomplish and the will to get there. Focus on the “why,” the personal benefit you want by completing a hike. Keep this in mind whether you are feeling disheartened in your preparations or on the path. Finally, envision yourself succeeding. Imagine yourself completing the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, or the Continental Divide Trail.
You may not feel ready to go on a real hike until after you’ve practiced for a while. Practicing hikes helps you prepare mentally and physically for the experience. Try taking short walks around your neighborhood or local park. As you become stronger, you can gradually add distance and elevation. You might want to consider joining a local club. These groups usually offer regular outings and activities, including guided hikes. They can offer encouragement and support, helping you push yourself further.