It’s fall time which means people can finally leave their air-conditioned houses and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air without sweating their butts off. Even if 50- and 60-degree weather feels chilly at first, moving around will get your heart pumping and circulate warm blood to heat your body up. Exercising outside at this lovely time of year is an awesome way to maximize the benefits that autumn weather brings.
The physical and psychological benefits of exercise and nature are well-documented. So what’s better than doing one? Combining both and going on a hike!
Fitness Challenge: Go on a Hike!
There are many ways to enjoy physical activity outdoors, but hiking is one that is accessible to almost everyone. So I challenge you to go on a hike that is challenging and enjoyable one day this week. Turn your phone off if you can and just breathe in the present moment, enjoying the beautiful scenery and peaceful serenity of nature.
While you’re hiking, I want you to keep the following tips in mind to make sure that your hike is a safe and effective workout.
- Check out https://www.alltrails.com. This website provides different hikes in any given location with their difficulty rating and popularity rating. It’s a great resource if you are looking for a new place to hike!
- Wear real hiking shoes with good traction if you’re hiking steep ascents or going through rocky, uneven terrain. If you are only able to walk in the city or somewhere that has a flat sidewalk, walking or running shoes will do the trick.
- Pick a difficulty that is appropriate for you. If you are ordinarily sedentary, pick an easy hike. If you are really fit, pick a harder hike. You want to be able to complete it but also want it to be relatively challenging to give your workout a boost.
- Warm up and cool down. You should gradually increase your pace over the first five to ten minutes of the hike to steadily increase your heart rate and blood flow. Similarly, you should gradually decrease your pace during the last five to ten minutes to safely lower your heart rate and blood flow. We will discuss the importance of warming up and cooling down in more depth in later blog posts.
- Change up your speed with interval training. If you are walking on flat ground, try some intervals in your hike. Jog from one landmark to the other or walk briskly for a set amount of time and then allow time to recover at a slower pace. Repeat. If you are hiking on steeper and more rugged terrains, be careful with running or walking briskly. Make sure your footing is safe before trying intervals.
- Bring lots of water. Even if it’s a cool day, you will warm up quite a bit on your hike. If it’s hot, make sure to drink extra water. As a rule of thumb, you should drink 17-20 ounces of water within two hours before your hike and drink about as much water as you sweat out. Pay attention to your thirst and drink accordingly.
- Bring a friend or loved one. Social connectedness is very important for mental health and happiness, so bring a friend on your hike and reap the benefits of exercise and socializing at the same time!
- Stretch at the end of your hike. Relieve any tension or tightness to keep your muscles loose and free by stretching your major lower body muscles at the end of the hike for 15-60 seconds (per stretch). I’ve discussed the high importance of stretching in this blog and have included lower body and upper body stretches you can do after a workout.
So find some time in your busy schedule to fit in a hike, and consider bringing a buddy along. You will not regret it!
If you’re looking for a personal trainer to travel to your home and you live in or around central Maryland, contact me here.
See you next time!