When you hear the term getting in shape or going for a workout 99% of people will immediately think of this as heading to the gym or going for a walk/run. This isn’t to say those thoughts are wrong but what about a more fun type of workout, one where you don’t even think you’re exercising but more exploring around and a result of that exploring just happens to be you burning calories.
Sounds good right?
If you don’t see where I’m going with this then I’ll be upfront with it. This article will be focused on hiking as a form of fitness/exercise. I’ll be covering everything from what items you’ll need to get started to situational stuff.
The Pros & Cons Of Going Hiking
- Great Way To Stay In Shape
- The Scenery
- A Way To Disconnect From The Busy Day To Day Stuff
- A Great Stress Reliever
- Potential For Catching Something (Poison Oak)
- Snakes, Spiders ,etc..
- Time Commitment
- May Need To Spend Some Money Getting Started
Don’t worry I’ll be covering what I mean by these points throughout the sections below.
Does Hiking Burn A Lot Of Calories?
This is actually the main reason people get into hiking ( the weight loss) because it is such a good cardio workout. It really works great because for one you’re not really thinking about the cardio you’re doing, so instead of thinking ugh, how many more minutes to go you’re thinking I wonder what’s over that hill?
Beating the mind is the single most important aspect involved when getting in shape and this is one way to do that.
What Muscles Does Hiking Workout & Does It Build Strength?
This is actually a surprise to most people but hiking is a great way to tone up your legs and even your core.
So the answer is yes you can build muscle but you won’t notice any upper body muscle, mainly your legs and your core ( abs).
What Items/Equipment Do You Need To Start Hiking
This is a great question that the answer will differ depending on what type of hiking you’re looking to do. If you’re looking to do just a simple in the woods behind your house type of hiking then you won’t need much.
Items To Bring If Your Hiking Through Your Local Woods
- Canteen Full Of Water
- A Walking Stick (To Move Potential Snake Hidden Items)
- Couple Of Protein Bars
- Flashlight (If Going Later In The Day)
- A Poncho If A Possibility Of Rain
- Handheld GPS ( Maybe)
All of this in a good backpack will work fine for a simple hike through the woods.
I would also make sure to wear jeans with boots that go up to around your lower shin. Jeans help in case you rub up against some poison oak by accident and the boots help for keeping feet comfortable and possible snake bite protection.
Also make sure to spray yourself down with bug spray before you leave the house.
If you feel you might get lost then I would highly suggest getting a handheld GPS.
Advanced Hiking Equipment List
This is more if you’re going to much bigger area away from home, possible the mountain area but not an overnight hike.
- All Of The Items Mentioned In The First List
- At Least One More Container Full Of Water
- Definitely A Handheld GPS
- Extra Batteries For Flashlight
- Sunscreen & Bug spray
- First Aid Kit
- Water Filter System
- One Days Supply Of Food More Than You Plan On
- Jacket (Possibly)
- Matches/Fire System
- Easy Tent Setup
I realize this looks like a lot but it’s really not. After packing this up in a good hiking backpack will reveal it’s less than it looks.
Also I understand half of this stuff you won’t need like the tent or fire setup but it’s better to have this stuff just in case something happens like you break your foot and get stuck out doors or your GPS quits working causing you to get lost.
Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes. ― Zig Ziglar
How To Prevent From Getting Lost While Hiking?
This is actually one of the most common reasons people don’t like to go hiking outside of a normal trail path that they can follow.
When you’re out in the wild a simple turn can throw everything off and it doesn’t help that everything probably looks the same.
Using A Portable GPS Device
These are very similar to the ones you use in a car but built more for outdoorsy situations such as this. I find this to be the best bet but if you don’t have the money for it or prefer a more non technological approach then take a look at the next option.
The Hansel & Gretel Navigation Method
The throwing down breadcrumbs to follow back isn’t the best idea for navigation purposes, at best you’re just going have a happy trail of squirrels following behind you. Leaving a trail though is not a bad idea however.
For this you will need either a can of chalkspray to spray arrows on trees or the ground. I prefer not to use spray paint just because I’m not trying to make the forest look like some gang infested place with spray paint all over it and the chalk spray will wash off with rain.
After you have your chalkspray all you’ll do is spray an arrow on a tree that you just came from in the direction you need to go to return. You’ll do this in certain increments to leave you a trail to follow your trail back when you’re done with your hike.
Closing Thoughts On Why Hiking Is Great For Your Health
I’m a fan of being in shape no matter what way people decide to go about it. Hiking attracts more of those people who don’t like the gym scene but still prefer to be up and active.
Getting out and about with hiking can do wonders for your physical health and over mental health as well so if you’re trying to decide if hiking is good for you then I would say at least give it a shot to see how you like it. Take a camera with you and maybe even your dog so they can enjoy getting out with you.
Image Credits: silver-john