Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Try these exercises to prepare for upcoming hiking season

With spring’s arrival, the time finally has arrived for hitting some great day hiking trails. If living in a northern or a mountainous climate, though, you may have just spent the long winter indoors. So while you’re itchin’ to get out, you may be a little out of shape, even for a short day hike. Go hiking without being in shape, though, and you’ll fatigue quickly – and for the next few days your sore muscles will remind you just how out of shape you were.

Good exercises for hiking focus on strengthening these four areas of the body:
g Heart – Hiking essentially is a cardio workout. To prepare for it, begin by walking short distances on a flat surface. Increase the distance and add a little more uphill terrain each day.
g Legs – You’ll feel the greatest burn in your thighs and calves. Exercises such as lunges and stepping on/off a small step will help.
g Back – Often your back will be strained by carrying a daypack or child carrier with your little one in it. You can do basic stretches such as hip bridges, side planks and side planks to toughen up your muscles.
g Shoulders – The pressure points for anything you carry on your back will be your shoulders. Adding a little muscle to them helps provide a cushion. You might try a floor press, a dumbbell row, and scaptions.

Even if you’re in fairly good shape, these exercises can be helpful in keeping you limber for your hikes. Consider doing them on the days you’re not on the trail.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.