We mostly say we’re going hiking, not doing a hiking workout, right?! That’s because it’s common knowledge that hiking is always a workout. Going up hills, getting your heart rate up and also some fresh air into your lungs is what it’s all about. Around the country, there are trails everywhere and you can use different apps to find them. Even though it’s all nature, they feel completely different in the views that they offer and the people that are on the trails. In Los Angeles for example, Runyon Canyon in Hollywood always has these super hip people and views of the entire city including the Hollywood sign. Temescal Canyon by the beach is more low key, has beautiful ocean views and cool breezes to match.
The Hiking Workout
Hiking encompasses everything good about exercise. So what can you do to make it an actual hiking workout? Start with a warm up. If you are on a path that starts out gradually, your warm up is already built in. Otherwise, you can start with lunges, squats or jumping jacks and then stretch a little. If you get to places on the trail that level out, consider jogging to keep your heart rate up. To make it a full body workout, add in planks, push ups, dips if you can find a bench, sit ups, etc…therefore hitting all of your major muscle groups.
Why is Hiking Great for You?
- It challenges different muscles. Heading up hills, or down hills, challenges your leg muscles in a different way while keeping it low-impact. Stabilizing yourself on uneven terrain adds in more complexity.
- You burn a lot of calories – about 400+ per hour for the average person.
- You push yourself harder than you would in a normal workout – at least on the uphill part. I almost always get out of breath and just keep going because I need to get there. Where? I don’t know … the top!
- There’s a mind body connection that you don’t always get with other exercises. Being in nature and breathing fresh air somehow clears your mind and makes you feel good about being alive. Also, if you live in a city and are suddenly in the mountains, the change feels amazing.
5 Tips to Get Hiking
- Get the right gear. Do you need hiking shoes for full day hikes or trail runners for 1-2 hour exercise hikes? Do you need a pack? Workout clothes or hiking pants? REI is a great place to get gear and advice.
- Get an app. I love AllTrails, an amazing free app that will show you hiking trails all around the world. I’ve used it to find hikes at home and almost every vacation I’ve been on from Alaska to Arizona to Arkansas. Yes it works in locales that don’t begin with an A too! It’s also important to have an app like Gaia GPS. I’ve gotten a little bit lost a few times and a GPS app can get you back to where you need to be.
- Take safety precautions. If you’re going on an easy trail where you go there and back, bring what you need for the workout. However, if you are going on an unfamiliar trail or the hike might take longer than you think, bring extra water, a hat, sunscreen, a lightweight umbrella, a cell phone battery back up, a few healthy snacks and tell someone where you are going. I’m saying this from experience. As I told you, I’ve been lost on a trail before. Not lost like scary lost, but lost like the hike took an extra few hours. What happened? I ran out of cell phone battery, water and got sunburned!
- Get into hiking shape. If you haven’t been hiking for awhile, start on easier trails and work your way up. You can also start in the gym on the stair machine or a treadmill with incline. Exercises like squats and lunges will also prepare you.
- Pick a goal. One year my goal was to hike a ton of hikes around Los Angeles that I had never tried. It was really fun to experience new areas and vistas I had never seen. You can also pick a goal training for a particular trek like Mount Rainier or the Appalachian Trail.
Doing a hiking workout lets you get great exercise and mentally clear your mind at the same time. It feels good for your body and your soul. Use The best part about hiking is that it is totally free and absolutely kicks your butt. For other workouts, try a Stairs Workout or something totally different, a Rowing Workout.