Have you ever thought to yourself it would be fun to get away from our daily lives, much of which we spend playing around with our technological doohickeys and whatnot? If you have, then you are not alone. More and more people are deciding to go and take a hike in the great outdoors. Sure, it might feel good getting another ‘like’ on that thing you shared on social media. But let’s face it… in the end, all we humans want is just to be in nature, surrounded by the trees, the birds and the bees, and to take in some fresh air every once in a while.
Hiking is a great way of disconnecting from society and giving yourself a techno-detox, if you believe in such a thing. The reason why you need to get out frequently in order to be happy, is because your biology isn’t hardwired to work with machines all day long. Sometimes, you’ve gotta go back to the roots. And hiking is just the way to do it. However, hiking is also pretty tough. It would help you if you’d take the time to shape up before you go at it. And in this article, I’m going to give you some tips on how best to go about that. Before you know it, you’ll be puttin’ on those boots and hitting the trail!
If you’re a hiking newbie and you’ve decided to go on your first hike, then in order to be shaped up for it, you’ll need to be fit both physically as well as mentally. It takes some real preparation.
How To Prepare For Your First Hike
1. Research The Trail
Hiking trails come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You’ve got to know where you’re going, so make sure to research your trail of choice, so you’ll know what you’re up against once you get there.
Beginner hikers should always choose an easy trail to begin with. Not too many rocks, clear directions on the path, the trail must be well maintained, and you shouldn’t go on a trail where you’ll go for miles and hours on end without meeting a fellow human being.
In order to be truly prepared, it helps to do some meditation. Hiking itself is a great activity that will clear your mind, but clearing it up front with your meditation helps you getting into the hiking groove a little more quickly.
Meditation is a great practice that is known to be beneficial to your mental health. You should probably always do it. But it’s especially helpful if you do it for only a few minutes every day in the week leading up to a big, new challenge, such as a hike.
3. Eat Healthy
In the days leading up to your first hike, do yourself a favor and eat healthy. If you’re going to stuff yourself with sugary treats like you always do, then you’re going to feel tired and exhausted. I don’t know about you, but I feel rather disengaged when I’ve got too much sugar on the brain.
Get some carbs from fruit, instead of a donut. Throw in some proteins, which you can find in chicken or turkey. How about some good fatty acids, such as Omega 3, which you can find in salmon. A body fueled with health food will help you out tremendously once you’re on the trail.
4. Get Good Boots
Without decent footwear, don’t even consider going onto a hiking trail. This isn’t some walk on the beach where you can slowly make your way from A to B and can stand still whenever it suits you.
During a hike, standing still isn’t really an option. Neither is quitting. Nobody’s sending a helicopter for you anytime soon when you’re halfway through a trail. You’d need to first break an ankle in order to get a heli. I don’t recommend this. So invest in good hiking boots.
5. Increase Ankle Strength
When you’re wearing hiking boots with good ankle support, you are at a much lower chance of hurting your ankles than when you’d be wearing sneakers. But don’t rely on your boots to do all of the heavy lifting. You’ve still gotta put in some work of your own.
That’s why I recommend doing some exercises that increase your ankle strength. Running up down stairs will help. So does jump roping. There also exist exercise machines for training your calves, which usually automatically incorporates training your ankles as well.
6. Don’t Skimp On The Cardio
While it helps to have strong muscles, you should never neglect your endurance. That’s why it will help to do some cardio and increase your endurance.
For increasing endurance, don’t just step on a treadmill and run a moderate pace for half an hour. That’s a really great way of not getting any progress in your stamina at all.
Rather, do some HIIT training on the treadmill. If you go at maximum intensity for half a minute three times during your treadmill session, then you will find your stamina going up very quickly.
7. Shape Up Your Legs
Next to having good stamina, you must also have strong muscles. Especially in your legs. There are plenty of leg exercises you can do to beef yourself up. If you’re going to a gym, then there are plenty of machines that will let you do that.
If you don’t want to go to a gym, do bodyweight exercises at home. Stand up, grab your ankles and do squates while holding your ankles. I’m betting you won’t be able to do 10 of those, if you’ve never tried that. Another great exercises is doing lunges, where you step forward with one leg, preferably while holding dumbbells, to make the challenge a bit more interesting.
Adding hiking to your life is going to permanently increase the quality of your life. However, you’ll have to prepare thoroughly for your very first hike. While this may seem daunting at first, please remember… it will never be harder than it is right at the beginning. Soon enough, hiking preparations will become routine and you’ll be better off for it.