Hiking Basics

DSCN7305Hiking – a combination of walking, climbing, weight training and aerobics.  It’s like working out in your own natural health club.

Hiking is not only a great workout (it helps to condition your major muscle groups and cardiovascular system), it’s also an excellent way to get back in touch with nature.  You might even be able to experience that rarest of 21st century phenomena: silence.

Nearly anyone can enjoy hiking.  It suits practically any age and any pace, whether it involves a stroll down a nature path with frequent stops to enjoy wildflowers, or trail running with a focus on fitness, or a two-week trek to take in fantastic scenery and solitude.  Anyone can enjoy hiking, regardless of age or physical ability.  One can always find a trail that suits one’s abilities.

Hiking can be enjoyed in a variety of settings, with a minimum amount of equipment.  It is a convenient way of keeping fit while at home or on the road.  One can always find an inviting place to stroll or to take a more vigorous walk.  Some people think you have to go to Montana, Switzerland or Nepal, or some other distant and spectacular location to take a hike.  You might be surprised to learn there are hundreds, if not thousands of miles of trail in every state in the union, and beyond.  We are fortunate to live in an area that has some of the premiere hiking trails in the country, so why not enjoy this geographic advantage!

To get the most enjoyment out of hiking, find your own potential and set realistic goals.  Take short walks around your neighborhood or on nature trails.  Gradually lengthen your hikes as your strength and stamina increase.  The great advantage of hiking is that it is an end in itself, and the more often you hike the fitter you become.  Unless you are planning a major hiking expedition it is not necessary to broaden a hiking fitness program by working out at the gym, or going jogging or cycling every day.  This extra training will definitely enhance your hiking enjoyment, but it is no substitute for the real thing!

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