Trail hiking to increase your fitness and health is all about getting outside to enjoy nature while
working off calories and building muscle without any of it feeling like work. The best ways to get
fit are ways that help you reduce the level of stress in your life, lead to enjoyable activity and
have you coming back for more. Unlike walking or jogging for fitness, trail hiking is done with the
distinction of being out in nature, on slightly rougher terrain and in a space that allows you to get
away from it all– physically and mentally.
To help you get started trail hiking for your fitness, use these tips to help you burn more
calories, challenge yourself and increase your overall health.
Warm Up Muscles Beforehand
Trail hiking will help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than walking does
because of the uneven terrain, climbing and changes in elevation that you will encounter. Before
any strenuous hike, and especially if you are just beginning a workout regimen, it is important
that you warm up your muscles and stretch them out. Doing this will save you from any injuries
or muscle cramps while on your hike.
Buy Good Boots
In addition to preparing your muscles, it is important that you protect your feet and set yourself
up for a successful hike with a good pair of boots. Hiking requires foot and ankle support as you
cross unpredictable terrain and hiking conditions. The right pair of shoes or boots can make all
the difference in how long you are able to hike and how tired your feet are after the hike.
Prepare For Each Hike
One of the first mistakes most first time hikers make is to go into the activity unprepared,
thinking it will be as simple as a hike. Prepare yourself past stretching and a good pair of shoes,
with a small bag for immediate needs including water, a light snack, a basic first aid kit and a
trail map if you are hiking in unfamiliar territory. Planning out your hiking trail is also essential
when you first begin trail hiking in a new park.
Set Small Goals
When you first start trail hiking, and depending on your fitness level, set small goals for yourself.
When first getting to know a trail, it is important to pace yourself as you find quick and slow
climbs, recognize places to turn around and return to the beginning of your hike and find new
trails that might be more challenging. Base your hikes on your endurance level, taking into
consideration the time and distance of each hike. With each hike, push yourself to go further,
take on bigger challenges and hike for longer periods of time.
Practice Safe Hiking
Before any hike, check out park alerts and see if there is any new trail information. Make sure
your trail path is chosen, and try to stick to it in all cases. You should avoid hiking off trail,
especially when alone and without any more gear than you would normally carry for an average
hike. Make sure that you let someone know about your trail hike route, and when you expect to
return, in case anything should happen. You should always dress and pack yourself for the day
and the hike you are going on.
The longer you hike, the easier and less physically challenging each hike becomes. Take the
time to enjoy each hike, but as your fitness improves, always look for ways to increase the level
of energy and physical challenge you fit into each hike.