Pick the Right Path: If you’ve never hiked before, it’s probably safe to say that you’re not ready to scale Mount Everest. However, on the less extreme side of the spectrum, there are lots of national parks and local nature preserves offering trails more suited for you. Pick up a map at the ranger station or print off one from online. Most maps offer advice on which trails are best for beginners, intermediates, or advanced hikers, taking into consideration distances and elevation changes. If this information isn’t available, search for reviews online or ask a ranger for advice when onsite.
Challenge Yourself: If you’re comfortable walking around your neighborhood for a few miles, look for a trail of a similar distance but has some hills to give your legs a little more action. Or maybe try a distance that is a little longer than your comfort zone. If you typically walk trails, you could also try running for a few intervals. Press your body, and you’ll likely be surprised–and proud!–of what it can accomplish.
Train When Off the Terrain: If you want to make the most of your hikes, use the days when not on the trails to build up your muscle and stamina. Work in strength training that focuses on building lower body muscles, including important stabilizing muscles you’ll need for unlevel footing. And don’t forget about your core. Your midsection plays a big role in keeping you upright when traversing trails. Keep it strong, and your hikes will be happy and long.
Pack Some Poles: Get your upper body in on the fun by using poles when you hike. Similar to ski poles, hiking poles allow you to dig into the ground and push off to propel your body forward and up. They also help to keep you stable when ascending or descending hilly areas.
Weight Yourself: If you’ve ever dreamed of hiking across multiple states, such as on the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Northwest Trail, then you’ll need to get used to carrying your supplies on your back. Even if you just prefer day trips, filling up a backpack to carry along as you hike can act as a resistance training in the same way kettlebells and dumbbells do in the gym. Start with a small backpack and carry items such as food and water. The more comfortable you get, the bigger the bag you can use and the more weight you can strap to your back.
Hiking is an activity you can do in any kind of weather, so long as you dress for the climate and understand how trails are affected by the elements, such as snow and heavy rains. Do it solo, or hike with a friend. No matter how you trek, you’re sure to climb your way to a better body.
Where have you always dreamed of hiking? Tell us in the comments!