Hiking for Fitness
The health benefits of going hiking are numerous for people of all ages, and the potential social aspects boost health and wellbeing too. Contrary to popular stereotypes, you don’t have to be an outdoor enthusiast to enjoy hiking, and you don’t have to trek for miles to reap the rewards either!
Accessibility is the name of the game with hiking, you don’t need any fancy equipment and the outdoors is free to enjoy. For many older people, hiking can boost bone density and be easier on joints than walking on asphalt or concrete. Studies also show that seniors who hike regularly experience:
Improved cardiovascular health
Reduced arthritis, joint and knee pain
Improved muscle strength when hiking on a slight incline.
Furthermore, hiking is an intergenerational activity too, which is great for strengthening familial bonds. If you’ve got a range of ages and abilities in your family, the trails you hike will likely pose enough of a challenge without being a struggle for the oldest and youngest members. For older people, even if your family is not nearby, hiking groups are widespread in most areas, so why not join one? Many groups run donation-based or even free hiking trips, so it truly is an activity for all. Getting started with hiking for fitness requires you to have some dynamic warm-ups prepared too, performing stretches with a range of movements rather than stretching in the same place gets you ready far quicker, and means that your muscles are better equipped for the range of movements involved in hiking. To give you an idea, here are some examples that you can incorporate into your warm-up:
High knees: While running forward, bring the knees up higher than normal. Make sure that your knees, hips and shoulders face forward and move your feet as fast as possible. High knees for 100 feet. Turn around and high step it back.
Butt kicks: Bring your heel back to your butt with each running step and keep those arms pumping away. These steps should be short and done in quick succession. Butt kick for about 100 to 150 feet. Turn around and butt kick it back.
Walking lunges: Step forward and lower your body by dropping the back knee slowly to the floor. Make sure to keep the front knee at or just behind your toes and don't tilt forward. Lunge 25 feet, turn around and return to your starting position.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, you can take to the hills whatever your circumstance! Hillwalking is a bespoke activity for each person, and you’ll soon discover how best to pursue it in your own way, but hopefully this post provides a good baseline for those who haven’t contemplated it before. Happy hiking!