But not only is hiking a great aerobic exercise, it also works a variety of muscles in your legs, core, and even your upper body, so hiking also helps you build fat-burning muscle – all while you have fun in the outdoors. (To find out how many calories you will burn while hiking, check out theCalories Burned Calculator at Self Magazine online.)
Before hitting the trails, though, it is important to evaluate your current fitness level and create a hiking fitness plan that works for you. Before starting any new exercise routine, it is best to consult a physician. Even then, it is best to start slow and increase your intensity over time.
If you are used to a sedentary lifestyle, the first step begins by walking out of your front door. Make your way down to the end of the block and back. Do this once a day for a few days, and then increase the distance incrementally until you are capable of walking a mile round trip with ease. It is best to stick to the sidewalk when you are first starting out. But if there is no sidewalk in your neighborhood, remember to walk on the left side of the street against traffic for safety.
You can figure out street distance by counting your steps – a mile is about 2,000 steps – or use a website like MapMyWalk or Mapquest. Once you can comfortably walk a mile along the street, it is time to look into suitable off-road walks. You can find these in local parks or conservation areas near your home. Do a Google search by typing in the name of your city or town and the words “local hikes”. Chances are there are other people in your community who have already done the work for you by posting the best places to hike, including distances, geographical features of the land and difficulty level.
For more on hiking, check out my Man of Merit blog.