The monotony of gym workouts is often exhausting for even the most experienced athletes. However, even the busiest of schedules can make time for a 45- to 90-minute hike. Simple, yet effective, hiking is a heavily beneficial exercise. Not only does hiking improve cardiovascular health, encourage fat burning, and help various muscle development, but it is also a weight bearing exercise; this type of exercise may help prevent osteoporosis by promoting bone density and ensuring vitamin-D absorption.
Hiking essentials are simple and manageable. First, the potential hiker must scout out safe routes that include both inclines and declines to provide optimal muscle engagement. After deciding on a trail, the hiker should consider a potential partner; the inclusion of the proper partner may boost motivation and make the workout more effective and enjoyable. Hydration is also key in an effective workout, through either Gatorade, water, or a combination of the two; a backpack may also be very helpful by keeping hands free.
The hiker should make sure to implement a dynamic warm-up that focuses on waking muscles up through a series of range-of-motion exercises such as high knees, butt kicks, and walking lunges. To ensure an effective work out, hikers should try to maintain a moderate pace that averages around twenty minutes per mile; however, they should make sure to slow their descents on steep areas to prevent injuries. The hiker should also consider the use of trekking poles in order to increase stability, engage arm muscles, and prevent strain on the legs and feet.
Hiking also addresses one frequently overlooked aspect of a workout- mental fitness. Born with a physical disability, Sarah Herron learned to embrace hiking for exactly that reason. While her disability left her with low self-esteem as a child, Herron learned to build her confidence through outdoor adventures. She founded her non-profit organization SheLift to empower women through outdoor recreation, such as hiking. She recommends that potential hikers find a supportive community, set goals for sustainable growth, and make sure to keep things interesting.
Challenging oneself outdoors is a powerful tool for self-improvement; several of Herron’s fellow ambassadors highlight how hiking has helped them develop self-confidence, courage, and positivity. Not only does hiking improve physical fitness, but it also helps promote a healthy mind.