It’s a sweltering summer, and many hikers are escaping to cool mountains and shaded forests for some relief from the heat. Hiking is a great activity for so many reasons – fresh air, mountain views, and a physical challenge that goes beyond walking or jogging around the neighborhood – but go in unprepared, and you could be in for aches, pains, and even injuries. Everyone has their own workout style, but these are a few methods you can use to help conquer the mountain this summer and stay healthy during your hikes.
Get Out of the Chair
Sitting down during the entire workday can be detrimental. According to the Mayo Clinic, prolonged sitting is linked to increased blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and higher risk of obesity. The body just isn’t meant to sit still all day and then suddenly crush a 5- to 10-mile hike with zero conditioning. There’s a few ways to break up your sitting in the office:
- Take breaks. Get up every 30 minutes or so to take a short walk or refill your water bottle.
- Invest in a standing desk. An adjustable standing desk is a great way to force your way out of the chair. Some companies require a doctor’s note to supply the standing desk, but most doctors will be happy to sign off.
- Use an app like Stand Up for reminders to get out of the office chair.
- Eat “mobile snacks.” What’s a mobile snack? Foods like IsaLean™ Bars are perfect for a lifestyle on the move. Find nutrition that’s convenient for a workday that moves around the office.
Improve Your Mobility
Hiking is a full-body workout that uses both your strength and agility to get you from one end of the trail to the other. Strong legs are important (and more on those in a second), but poor mobility can increase your chances of pain or injury on the trail even with strong muscles.
The Limber 11 is a fantastic stretching routine that requires only a foam roller and a tennis or lacrosse ball. Do this routine daily, and you’ll be zipping up and down the trails like a supple leopard.
Build Strength With Back Squats
You may think of squats as a leg workout, but the benefits are for your total body. The muscles around your back and core are working to keep your form as your legs do the work of lifting the weight up and down. Many people find squats intimidating because bad form can cause injuries, but proper form can help build incredible strength. This is a lift you should be doing regardless of your hiking goals.
Use Lunges to Strengthen Quads
What is hiking up a mountain but a series of endless lunges? This is the workout we always dread at the gym but pays the biggest dividends in the wilderness. If your hike has any sort of elevation, then you need this in your life. Start with bodyweight if you’re new to lunges, and work up to dumbbells or a barbell on your back. Pick a weight that is comfortable yet challenging, and don’t let your knees hit the floor through each rep.
Deadlifts Are the Ultimate Core Builder
This is another intimidating-looking lift that seems suitable for The Mountain from “Game of Thrones” than it does Average Joe trying to hike a piece of the Appalachian Trail. But, like squats, deadlifts offer a benefit to the core that helps you on and off the trail. Also, like squats, they require proper form to be safe and effective. Don’t be intimidated – start light, and work up to a challenging weight that builds a stable core over time.
Just a few of these exercises, routines, and habits will make enormous differences during your next hike, but do them all, and you’ll feel like conquering the entire Pacific Crest Trail.
You should consult your physician or other healthcare professional before starting this or any other exercise to determine if it is right for you. Do not start this exercise routine if your physician or healthcare provider advises against it. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain, or shortness of breath at any time while exercising you should stop immediately, and seek appropriate medical care, if needed.