You don’t have to be a perfect athlete to take part in hiking, however, if you are up for testing yourself, preparing yourself for any eventuality and love the thrill of an extremely challenging hike, then there are certain fitness levels and diets you can be using to improve your hiking fitness.
If you don’t, you can find yourself tested to your limit and beyond. This has happened to me once a few years ago in a competition. I was the youngest and least experienced of the four-man team and we were behind, after ascending and descending one valley in North Wales, Snowdonia, I was already tired, but then came the killer; another valley, even steeper and higher than before.
I was not allowed to rest, my bag seemed to be getting heavier with every step, and my legs were burning almost unbearably. I made it after being encouraged by my teammates. We won that competition in the end, but I was not prepared to be in that situation again. Want to avoid a scenario like that? Then follow the following steps. Besides, keeping fit and healthy is good for you, and exercising actually releases ‘feel good endorphins’, so you have nothing to lose.
To be fit for hiking, you don’t have to be slim or ‘buff’; in my opinion it is better to have a layer of fat, and to be well-fed, to have a healthy body full of nutrients, vitamins, protein, unsaturated fat and energy sources such as carbohydrates. The benefits of a strong healthy body are clear to see, you will have a better immune system to avoid colds on winter walks, you will have a large energy resource to avoid exhaustion, and you will be able to complete your targeted hike or expedition.
The night before a hike, be sure to eat a lot of carbohydrates, you will need slow releasing energy for the next day. Try to avoid fast releasing energy sources such as chocolate, or sweets or sugar until hiking time.
Recent scientific research has shown that your body uses up a lot of carbs during exercise, and a lot of fat after the carbs are used, this process continues for hours maybe even into the next day. To avoid losing too much weight and therefore strength and vital energy supplies, eat your carbohydrates!!
Also be sure to replenish the stock at the end of the day. Some hikes last 8 hours or more, your body would be eating up far more calories, fat and carbohydrates than usual; and you will sweat more, so keep hydrated, and eat more salt than usual to avoid cramping. A nice bag of crisps, or plate of salty chips should do the job fine. If you’re a healthy eater, just add a bit of salt to your veggies. Yes, I know salt can be horrible and bad for you,but it is vital to avoid cramping.
So, now that we are eating well and extremely healthy, how should we prepare for the physical challenge presented by hiking? As a rule, hikers need to be strong in their legs, hips, body core and shoulders. The best way to get fitness for a specific activity is by doing the specific activity; so for football or rugby, play football or rugby, same applies for walking or hiking, go walking or hiking.
Start light, only a few miles on flat terrain. Evaluate how you felt; easy, difficult, or in-between? Adjust your training appropriately, try to always progress, slowly building up your physical strength, breaking in your boots and importantly improving or adapting your mental strength.
Getting too easy? Increase the distance, and difficulty, move to hilly terrain, move to loose footing, and wear a heavy backpack. Start wearing the big ones, pack your bag as if you’re going on the expedition; if you don’t want the hassle of having to pack your bag for an expedition, then just add weights and fill it with clothes and water. Keep increasing the difficulty of your walks and training, remembering not push yourself too far. The majority of hikes are to be enjoyed at a pace and effort you are comfortable with.
What if you can’t practice by doing it?
If for whatever reason, http://www.active.com/running/articles/6-tips-to-push-past-the-pain such as not being near suitable locations, lack of funds or time, you cannot prepare by practicing the actual activity, then you can always target exercise parts of your body. Perform squats, to strengthen your legs, and press ups for the upper body help with your heavy rucksack. To artificially prepare for hill walking, walk or run up and down stair cases with your pack and boots on.
Follow these exercises and diet, and you should be fit for hiking in no time at all, but do remember, hikes are to be enjoyed as they are leisure activity, do what you’re comfortable with, only follow these steps and push yourself if you are mentally ready for a challenge.