Hiking may be fun and adventurous, but it’s also strength-draining. So while several people get excited to venture on this walk, only some get into action.
Usually, they’ve got this common fear that they may not last through the journey.
It’s customary to feel worried that you may not be ready, as hiking demands decent physical wellness. So, it’s not surprising you want to know if you’ve to be fit for hiking.
Yes, you have to be fit for hiking. However, this exercise’s level of difficulty would determine your fitness level. Generally, hiking is beyond a regular walk down the road, so it’ll demand you’re fit enough to put in extra energy. Nonetheless, hiking is a form of exercise that anybody can do with adequate preparation.
In this article, I’ll explain why you’ve to be fit for hiking and how to get your body ready for the exercise.
Also, I’ll help you figure out how long it takes to be in shape for this strenuous walk. Finally, in the end, you’d know if hiking keeps one fit and if just anyone can perform this exercise.
Do I need to Be Fit to Hike?
Yes, it would be best if you were fit to hike. Physical fitness demands a level of endurance. It isn’t only about moving about your daily activities without fatigue.
Moreover, hiking is a vigorous walk, usually on rugged terrains and footpaths. So, this kind of walk would demand a decent level of endurance.
Therefore, someone who has yet to build their muscles for endurance can’t take this walk.
It would help if you were physically and mentally fit to endure this taxing exercise to avoid injury.
However, different hiking types cut across different difficulty levels. Therefore, the hiking types and their difficulty levels determine your fitness level.
Various guidebooks describe the complexity of hiking trails with 5-degree scales, which include:
- Less difficult
- More difficult
- Extreme, and
The above difficulty level determines how adequately fit you should be.
Someone preparing for long hours of hiking on a rugged trail would need to be more fit than someone hiking on an easy trail.
Therefore, consider the type of hike you’ll be going for and the difficulty level.
How Do I Get My Body Ready for Hiking?
Getting your body ready for hiking involves training to keep fit. There are various activities to engage in to get your body in shape.
However, the type of hiking you’d engage in would determine your preparation.
You’d need to prepare your body for endurance because even the easiest hiking requires strength and balance. However, it would help if you prepared your mind first.
Below I’ll discuss what you should do to prepare your body for hiking:
#1. Prepare Your Mind
The first preparation you should make before getting your body ready for hiking is mentally preparing yourself.
Self-doubt and fear usually keep people from starting, so you should combat these feelings first.
Start with focusing on why you want to hike in the first place; the benefits you’d gain from the exercise. Next, always encourage yourself even when self-doubt arises.
Finally, it’d be better to attach yourself to a group or a friend who’s experienced and will push you forward.
#2. Start with Basic Exercises for Cardio
If you last engaged in fitness activity long ago, you should start with simple exercises.
The idea is to warm up your muscles and set your heart rate. Start with short walks, jugs, and runs.
Moreover, cardio exercises are fundamental to building your lung capacity and helping you hike longer.
There are a lot of aerobic activities in the gym. However, you could practice squats, hops, and leg raises in the house.
#3. Build Your Core Muscles
Your core muscles will determine how well you perform in this exercise.
If you lack strength, balance, and flexibility in these muscles, you won’t be able to go far with hiking. These muscles include abdominal muscles, back muscles, and pelvic muscles.
Crunches, planks, and bridges are required exercises to build your core.
#4. Work on Your Leg Strength
The muscles in your legs are another primary focus. After all, your legs will do the major work.
Therefore, you must build your leg muscles to navigate rugged trails easily and climb hills.
Squats, lunges, and calf raises are good exercises to strengthen your legs. Also, walking up hills while taking your evening strolls will work.
In addition, increasing the intensity on the treadmill will work well too.
#5. Build a Strong Back
Building a strong back and shoulder is essential, especially if you’re backpacking.
You could train at home by strapping your pack on your back and doing “step-ups” or walking up and down the stairs.
Also, planking and push-ups with your pack loaded will build up the essential muscles in your back and shoulders.
In addition, it’ll prepare your body for the weight while hiking.
#6. Work at Your Pace
No matter how tempting it’s to finish your preparation quickly to join others, it’s advisable to work at your pace.
Start slowly and gradually build your resistance level. It’s a gradual process, and you should be gradual about it too.
In addition, when you need to take a rest, do so. The idea is to prepare your body for the hiking exercise and not wear it out.
Moreover, you’re to make the exercise fit your body and not the opposite. So, when anything hurts, adjust the exercise, or skip it for some time.
How Long Does It Take to Get in Shape for Hiking?
The time it takes to get in shape for hiking would depend on the kind of hiking you’ve in mind.
Someone preparing for a day hike will only need little time compared to preparing for a thru-hiking. Generally, it’d take two weeks– six months to prepare for hiking.
Below is a table showing the major types of hikes and the duration for preparation:
|Types of Hiking||Preparatory Period|
|Day hiking||Two weeks – two months|
|Long-distance hiking||Three – six months|
|Backpacking||Three –six months|
|Mountain hiking||Six months|
Furthermore, you should note that the terrain you’ll use will also influence the duration period.
If you’re going for a day hike in the mountains, you won’t use two weeks for preparation, but two months.
Can You Get Fit Just By Hiking?
Yes, you can get fit by hiking. Besides physically keeping you in shape, hiking also keeps you fit mentally and socially.
Moreover, there are numerous health benefits from taking strenuous work down several rugged terrains and mountains.
However, before starting this exercise, you should be well prepared to improve your wellness rather than injuring yourself.
Here are the ways hiking helps keeps you fit:
- It strengthens your muscles, improving overall fitness
- It helps you reduce weight
- It helps improves blood circulation, promoting cardiovascular function
- Promotes overall mental health
- It helps the body heal after sickness
- Promotes healthier social life
- It releases hormones that make us feel good
- It helps deal with stress
Can Just Anyone Hike?
Yes, anyone can hike if they prepare for it. However, there are factors to consider before anyone proposes hiking.
Usually, many beginners get intimidated, and some may fail to start this exercise. Most people capitalize on lacking physical fitness for the experience.
However, if they keep in mind that every experienced hiker was once a beginner, it’ll be much easier. Therefore, just about anyone can hike if they prepare adequately.
Below are some factors to consider before stepping out for a hike:
- What shape are you in? A sick person shouldn’t go for a hike except as recommended by a doctor.
- How physically and mentally prepared are you?
- What is your endurance level?
- Do you need partners? It’s advisable beginners choose an experienced partner or join a hiking club
- Consider the time and weather conditions
- Make sure you take the right hiking gears
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