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Training and Conditioning for Hiking

Before you start hiking, it’s wise to prepare your body for the rigors and challenges associated with it.

Training for Hiking

As we transition into spring and summer, many of us look for ways of getting active and fit outdoors. Hiking is a fantastic outdoor activity that just about anyone can do rain or shine. However, before you start hiking, it would be wise to prepare your body for the rigors and challenges associated with this activity to ensure you have a safe and pleasurable season.

When hiking, you are likely to encounter varying terrain of hills and valleys which will challenge you both cardiovascularly and muscularly. It is important that you prepare your body appropriately and effectively. As a BCRPA Supervisor of Fitness Leaders I teach my clients the following conditioning tips:

  • Include upper body exercises that will help improve your posture. This will be very important to help stabilize you when your legs begin to tire on the hike. Exercises that may be performed could include back extensions, dumbbell rows, reverse flyes and supermans.
  • Include some incline walking or running to work on improving your cardiovascular system. If this type of activity is something you are not used to, remember to start slowly and progress gradually. Allow your body a chance to adapt before increasing time or intensity.
  • Always begin every workout with a cardiovascular warm up. This should consist of 5-10 minutes of walking, and slowly increasing your speed throughout the warm up. After the warm up, you will need to warm up the joints to be included in the workout by performing some dynamic movements such as forward-back leg swings, body weight squats, arm circles, and gentle side bends.
  • Include lower body strengthening exercises. These should include movements that will mimic what you will be doing on the hike. For example, step ups on to a step, or lunges.
  • Work on your flexibility. Try a yoga class or have a certified personal trainer teach you some appropriate stretches to aid in recovery.

Health and Safety Tips

I want to make a quick note about protecting yourself while on your hike. Please beware of ticks while you are hiking as they carry a variety of diseases including Lyme disease.

Here are some simple tips to protect you while you are enjoying your hike:

  • Use insect repellant that contains 20-30% N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET)
  • Wear clothing that has been treated with permethrin
  • Take a shower as soon as you come indoors
  • Look for ticks on your body. Ticks can hide under the armpits, behind the knees, in your hair and in the groin
  • Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 60 minutes to kill any remaining ticks

Happy Hiking!