|Huntington Beach Central Park, 2010|
Walking is my favorite form of exercise. Jim and I walk the trails that meander through the city as often as we can. We also love to head for the mountains to hit the trails there for some hiking. It feels awesome to get outside, breathe in some fresh air, and get the heart pumping with some serious moving about! It wakes me up, gives me more energy, improves my mood, clears my head, and just makes me feel good all the way around. But those are only a few of the very real benefits of hiking. Read on for more.
Regular aerobic exercise provides many health benefits. Hiking is a great form of aerobic exercise. Some of the benefits include:
You don't have to hike a lot to reap most of these benefits. Just 30 minutes most days will do it (150 minutes of moderate activity per week is recommended, so moderate hiking. You can talk but you can't sing.). You can break it up into 10 minute bouts of exercise, too, if you don't want to or don't have time to complete your exercise routine in all one go. Of course, challenging yourself as you become stronger will help provide even more benefits to your health. Vigorous exercise, such as hiking uphill or with a backpack on your back, provides that challenge. Shoot for 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise--you can only speak a few words at a time.
Aerobic exercise is great, but you also should get 2 to 3 days of resistance training in per week. Body weight, free weights, weight machines--choose the exercises that are the most fun and manageable for you. Like aerobic exercise, gradually increase weight and/or repetitions as you get stronger. You can also vary rest time between sets and speed to change up your workouts.
You may want to invest in a pedometer to keep track of your walking and hiking progress. It can be a lot of fun and provide motivation to see how many steps you take each day or during each hike.
Are you a hiker? Or are you just thinking about getting into it? What are some tips that have helped make your ventures out into nature more fun, safe, and fulfilling?