Best Practices for Hiking



Hiking is an activity that is as old as time. It’s a great way to exercise your body and relax your mind. You can spend an hour, or you can spend a day in nature. Think of it as calorie burning and meditation all-in-one.

To start hiking all you need is a place in nature to walk, a water bottle, and a sense of adventure! You can make hiking as involved or a simple as you like. Some folks like to go backpacking and spend days or weeks camping in the wilderness!

Let’s have a look at some basic backpacking tips.

Footwear

It doesn’t matter what you choose to wear on the trail. Some people like boots and some bare feet, the important thing is to choose what you are comfortable wearing. Your footwear should be snug but not pinch your toes.

Foot care

If you spend enough time hiking your feet will take a beating. Be sure you keep them moisturized to prevent blisters and cracking. Also, keep your toe nails trimmed short to prevent ingrown nails.

Stay in your limits

Hiking mountains is fun but if you don’t have the skills it is dangerous. Start with flat, easy hikes of moderate duration and slowly work your way up to more challenging hikes.

First aid

Always bring a first aid kit. You don’t need anything fancy, but some wound ointment, bandages, and hand sanitizer goes a long way. If you are hiking far from home and are unsure of the weather, an emergency blanket and extra food can save your life if the weather changes suddenly.

Water

Bring enough water for the time you intend to be hiking. A good rule of thumb is to drink a liter every couple hours. If you are going backcountry, you can bring a portable water filter and refill along the trail.

Tell Friend

Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. That way, if you are stuck in the wilderness someone will know where to find you.

Bring a Friend

Hiking with a friend is the safest option. If you get injured they will be able to help you back home, or run for help.

Hiking is also a great way to build full-body fitness. Most people are aware that hiking will strengthen and condition your legs but it is really a full body activity! The three ways you can get your whole body involved are: arm swing, backpack, and trekking poles. Swinging your arms in rhythm to your walk helps increase blood flow to them and helps engage the core to help propel you forward. An extension of this action is the usage of trekking poles. Trekking poles look like ski poles and are designed to help you drive forward with the use of your arms and shoulders. This gives you more forward drive and engages the core and upper-body. Using poles also helps you maintain better posture and better manage a heavy backpack. Finally, carrying a backpack requires the use of not only your legs, but your upper body as wearing a backpack requires that you use your core to stabilize the pack and your shoulders to help carry the weight. To get the most out of your legs, try to avoid walking on the balls of your feet and ‘pushing’ off the ground to step. Instead, ‘pull’ through the hip and heel. This action will help engage your glutes and hamstrings more, plus these big muscles will fatigue slower and this action will help build them and protect your joints.

If you have any questions about hiking post them in the comments!

The opinions shared in this article are those of the contributor and not Total Gym Direct.

Josh Wood

Coach Josh Wood, BHSc, is a Fitness Coach and Wilderness Guide who lives in Hobart, Tasmania, and works to help people find their passion for activity. He spent most of the last decade studying the body through manual therapies, health science, and fitness. With a background in teaching Massage Therapists and Personal Trainers he also writes for various online publications which keeps his communication skills sharp. His diverse background brings the many facets of health and fitness together. Head over to coachjoshwood.com to learn more!

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