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Take a Hike!

Nice views, fresh air, the sounds and smells of nature… aren’t all that enticing? Yes, that’s one of the many perks about hiking. A form of cardio workout, hiking is great for those who are looking to burn calories while building some muscles. The only catch is that hiking can be a challenging activity. See those steep cliffs up there; yes, it screams for energy and that means you have to get in shape before you can go on a hike!

The prep

So, how to best prep yourself for a hike? The amount of training you will need varies according to the difficulty of the hike; take length and location into consideration when planning.

Walk!

Walking is probably one of the best exercises to go for when prepping for a hike. It gives you a cardiovascular workout and strengthens the muscles you will need for the hike.

For starters, begin your training by doing 30 to 45 minutes, 3 days a week to train for about an 8km hike. Then, increase the distance you do each week, until you are walking an equivalent of about two thirds of the length of your desired hiking place.

Vary your training place.

Don’t just train on flat surfaces; some hiking places can have uneven surfaces, hilly slopes, slippery rocks, etc. So, you have to be prepared for them.  For instance, you can practice on hilly terrains.  If there are no natural hills round your place, you can train on stairs or an aerobic step machine.

Weight!  

Ramp up your endurance by doing some weight training, it can help!  Weight training such as lunges and squats can be good as part of your preparation.

Aim to do a 8 to 12 repetitions for 2 or 3 days a week for about 3 to 4 weeks before hiking. You can also choose to add dumbbells to your routine and carry them as you walk. Don’t forget your backpack (see below).

If you are going to carry a backpack during a hike, be sure you are comfortable with the weight that you are going to carry for the whole entire hike journey. So, what can you do about this? Just carry your backpack along when working out! Begin with a little weight then add to your pack each week until you have reached the weight you will be carrying on the trail. The weight that you carry for your trail should ideally feel balanced and stable when resting on your hips and nothing should shift or sway inside.

Balance and stretch!

Help train your muscles for the long uphill and downhill climbing by doing some balancing and stretching acts! The figure-4 stretch is one of the simple stretching exercises you can do.

  • Sit on the floor with the right leg extended and the sole of the left foot pressed against the inner right thigh.
  • Lean forward while bending at the waist and stay in this position for about 30 seconds. Repeat the steps three times for each leg. 
  • Do front leg lift to help keep your footing on the trail. Stand parallel to a wall, extend one leg above the floor, further from the wall and hold for 5 to 30 seconds. Repeat this for three times and switch legs.

Benefits of hiking

  • Reduces risk of getting heart problems.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Reduce weight and also a form of method in stabilizing cholesterol levels.
  • Improves mood and helps with anxiety.
  • Can help strengthen the bones.
  • It never gets boring; just think about the view!

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The deal about safety

It’s important to stay safe and comfortable when you are on a hike.

Check the weather forecast!

It is important to know the kind of weather you will be dealing with so that you can be prepared and modify your plans accordingly. Check the Internet, listen to news or contact a park ranger to know about the day’s weather before starting on a trail. If big storms are forecasted, play it safe and postpone the hike to some other day.

Pack the essentials!

Don’t forget to pack some essential items you will need along the hike.  For instance, a map to stay on the trail, sunscreens so that you don’t burn, an extra clothing just in case the weather changes, a headlamp or lightweight torch light, a basic first-aid kit, snack bars, etc.

Inform a buddy! 

Don’t forget to tell someone (your friends, family, etc) about your hike so that they will know where you are. It’s always a great idea to travel with at least one other person for safety and companionship!

Looking to hike in KL?

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Some of the best places you can do if you are around town are:

  • Canopy walk, FRIM.
  • Broga Hill
  • Bukit Gasing
  • Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve Trail 

References:

Greatist. Available at www.greatist.com

Health Works. Available at www.healthworks.my

How Stuff Works. Available at www.howstuffworks.com

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