Getting Fit for Outdoor Adventures

Getting Fit for Outdoor Adventures

Whatever your outdoor pursuits involve, a level of fitness is getting to be required. By this I don’t mean stamina and strength, I mean generally being in good shape so that you don’t end up with pulled muscles or other injuries. Regardless of your ability or exertion preferences, being fit before you head out will make the miles seem shorter and keep injuries at bay.

Different types of outdoor adventures require different levels of fitness .If your outdoor adventures include challenging backpacking treks over a number of days you’d be crazy to set out without some training. Of course the great thing is even short hikes will improve your fitness levels over time so you can enjoy the outdoor life as you get fitter for greater challenges.

I consider myself a pretty fit bloke and enjoy mountain biking and climbing as well as hiking. You will never see me in a gym I stress! My missus loves it but between you and me I think it’s also the ‘ladies that lunch’ appeal and she probably spends as much time in the coffee bar as she does working out! Personally I can’t think of anything worse than running on a treadmill or lifting weights with all the ‘Muscle Mary’ crowd! If you want to get fit, get outdoors.

A mate of mine recently trained to run his first marathon and believe it or not he did all his training on the treadmill. I wasn’t surprised when he told me afterwards that his knees and legs were agony after 3 miles on the road and he gave up before the 10 mile mark. The same principl is true if you want to get fit for hiking – there’s no substitute for the real thing. Hiking uphill with a fully-loaded backpack can’t be simulated!

If your fitness levels are really low just getting out and walking will set you on the right path. As you feel some improvement, start to carry a backpack with a few items in it. As you progress try walking uphill – even if it’s a gentle slope. Power walking may look and feel stupid but this is also great training for when you hit the trails!

For fitness for mountain biking and other specific pursuits the same rules apply – doing it is the best way to get better at it. Of course any general exercise like swimming or running will also help. When increasing cardiovascular endurance, push yourself, but not past the point you fail the "Talk Test." You should be breathing hard but still be able to answer simple questions. If you're gasping for breath and unable to speak, you're overdoing it.

Strong lungs aren't the only hiking health need. Your legs will also get quite a workout, and if you're carrying a pack you'll need a strong core and shoulders. Be sure to add some strength training to your workout if you want to avoid back and neck pain when you finally put your pack down. If you do suffer from back pain when carrying a backpack think about using walking poles as these can reduce the strain. Make sure the pack is properly fitted to your back and isn’t too tight or too loose.

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