Hiking is a fun way to explore your surroundings, and a wonderful way to build networks while strengthening your mental and physical muscles. The challenge from the hike may also help you discover that you are mentally stronger than you thought. Our fast-paced lives rarely allow us to undo the 100 plus hours of inactivity every week and 3-5 hours weekly at the gym aren’t enough either.
As a general rule of thumb, the starting focus of all exercise programs should be generally low -intensity training and an all-rounded aerobic endurance to prepare a foundation for the upcoming exercise. Similarly, before you take on any hike, it is essential to get your muscles, joints, and mind ready. The fitter and better your condition, the more you will enjoy your hike.
Focus on building overall body strength especially on muscles that will be involved in the activity. The lower body (quadriceps, hamstrings, calves), lower back, abdominals, and shoulders. A hike works practically every muscle from the waist down.
Before any hike, gradually build up your cardio-respiratory endurance through activities like a light to a brisk walk, jog, run, cycle or swim. Anything that involves repetitive movements of the large muscles for a duration and will keep your heart rate elevated. It will get your lungs ready for the high demand of Oxygen on the high altitudes and your heart pumping efficiently for proper circulation.
In Kenya, for instance, start with long walks, easy hikes like Ngong hills as you work up to steeper climbs like Mt. Longonot, the Aberdares before attempting a challenge like the Mighty Mt. Kenya.
Always walk as a team and let the slowest set the pace for all, they subconsciously push themselves harder at the front. Do not do too much too soon, conserve the energy for the last part of the hike. Take frequent breaks to fuel up, rehydrate and gather the mental resources to do the next climb. Don’t rush nature, it will humble you.
Stay on the trail and take frequent water breaks, this will encourage proper circulation of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles. Pack foods that are nutritious and high energy. To avoid stomach upsets, stick to foods that your body is accustomed to. Dry rations like nuts and dried fruit are perfect options and are easy to bite on, even as you walk. A bottle of isotonic water will come in handy in case of cramps that arise from dehydration and depletion of electrolytes (calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium levels in the bloodstream and muscles.
Heeled shoes, sandals, jeans and other casual wear items are not for hiking. Wear light, comfortable layered, breathable fabrics that can be added or removed as required. It is crucial that you regulate your body’s temperature as the weather can be unpredictable at higher altitudes and may change often.
Invest in a pair of hiking boots that can take the rocky and unstable terrain. Your regular sports shoes will not give your legs and feet the proper support. Wear these with thick wool socks to increase the cushioning. You don’t want to end up with a blister on the trail. Good quality hiking boots offer support around the ankles, they have a good grip to help prevent falls that may be caused by slipping and sliding.
Ensure that your bag has a right and comfortable harness around your shoulders. Avoid thin straps that will cut into your shoulders cutting off your blood circulation. The lumbar pad, hip belt, and shoulder straps should be padded. Adjust the straps so that most of the load is carried by your shoulders, not your lower back.
Peak performers and champions speak of an end to a challenge with excitement, curiosity, and wonder. They possess is an infectious talent for moving into the future, generating a new challenge, living with a sense of ‘more work to be done’. Be your own champion and join us at the FEEL FITNESS CENTER for our upcoming hikes. This is a build-up in a series of hikes, towards our ever-elusive quest to Mt. Kenya towards the end of the year. We must finish well. Contact us through +254780297429.