Hiking is a great way to stay active outside of the stuffy and sometimes crowded gym. Believe it or not, you don’t have to do anything intense or crazy to get a good workout from a hike. Even small hikes up short mountains thoroughly work your legs and feet, arms, abdominals, shoulders, and even your neck. When you hike for fitness purposes, you should always make sure you are carefully prepared before your hike, during your hike, and after your hike.
What to do Before a Hike
Start drinking water
You should drink at least an entire 16 ounce bottle of water two to three hours before you even step outside. This will lower your chance of dehydration and keep you from getting thirsty early in your hike.
Pack extra water
You never want to get to the top of the mountain and realize you have no water for the way back down.
Warming up before a hike gets your body ready for the stairs and slopes and reduces the risk of pulling a muscle or spraining an ankle.
What to do During a Hike
Just start walking
Remember, hiking doesn’t have to be hard. Walking at a normal pace exercises nearly every part of your body and burns close to 400 calories an hour.
Drink even more water
The more you sweat the more water your body loses, so make sure you drink small sips of water every few minutes to stay hydrated, especially if you are going on a difficult or lengthy hike.
Pack salty and protein-filled snacks
Though you may not need snacks for a quick hike, they are always good to bring along. Salty snacks help counteract the amount of water you drink, and protein-filled snacks will give you fuel and energy if you start feeling tired.
For a challenge, do some interval training
If you are an experienced hiker or if you want to get a little more out of your hike, you can spend some time switching between walking and running intervals. Run for a few minutes, walk until you catch your breath, and start running again.
What to do After a Hike
When you’ve made it up that mountain and back down again, it is important to stretch and loosen your muscles. This will increase blood flow and speed recovery time so you don’t feel as sore in the morning.
Next time you want to exercise outside of the gym, switch your long run for a hike. Make sure you start small, and if you haven’t hiked a lot before, don’t climb the first mountain you come across. You may push yourself too hard and get an injury. Instead, take the time to hike small mountains first and gradually move up to larger mountains.
If you are worried about going alone, take a friend. It is easy to talk and hike at the same time!