Going on Your First Hike: Are You Fit to Do it?

taking a hike

Hiking allows you to explore and experience beautiful places in the world. It’s also one of the most beneficial outdoor activities. Harvard Medical School reports hiking helps raise your heart rate as it forces your heart to work harder. It also exposes you to nature, which minimizes stress levels and improves your mood.

This activity, however, requires planning and preparation to enjoy its benefits. Otherwise, your body might suffer along the way, especially if it’s your first hike.

Hiking Requires Physical and Mental Strength

Hiking is more than just taking a walk. Here, you will follow a trail in a forest or a mountain for a much longer period than a regular walk. Exposing yourself to nature and having the freedom to choose your path is physically and emotionally stimulating.

Nature, however, is unpredictable. Anything can happen unexpectedly while you’re in the wilderness. It’s important to be physically and emotionally prepared for any situation that may occur. You also need to be familiar with your gear, so you maximize their purpose.

Whether you hike in a neighborhood trail or go on a backpacking trip in Alaska, proper training will help you prepare for your first hike. Your body and mind will be ready to take on the physical and mental demands of this outdoor activity.

Preparing for Your First Hike

Not all trails are the same. But you’re likely to experience hiking on uneven trails with at least some elevation gain. You need to improve your balancing skills and strength to avoid injuries, including ankle rolling and ankle sprains. Assess your fitness level to see if you’re fit to go on a hike.

Start your preparation with some basic exercises. These will warm up your muscles and increase your heart rate.

Here are five tips that may help condition your body for your first hike:

  • Run or walk in sand – this exercise helps build the muscles that protect your knees and ankles.
  • Crunches – these help build your core strength to help you keep your balance on uneven.
  • Cardio – this increases your heart rate and will help build lung capacity, which will allow you to hike longer.
  • Push-ups – this helps develop your upper body strength that will be beneficial if you need to carry a heavier pack.
  • Squats and lunges – these exercises will strengthen your core muscles, especially if you keep your back straight and take them slowly.

Your training, however, will depend on the trail you’re planning to hike. Find a destination first and research about the difficulty levels of its trails. Some spots are not ideal for first-time hikers, so you need to be aware of that.

When hiking with a group, consider training with those who will come with you. They may have a hiking experience to share with you, allowing you to set expectations before heading out.

Hiking is an exciting and beneficial activity. Make sure your body and mind are ready to make the most of this experience. Follow the right exercises, so your body will be in the right shape and ready to hike different kinds of trail.

By Bonnie Rush

Bonnie is always on the road with some amazing adventures ahead. Her favorite continent is South America and she’s passionate about culture-focused traveling and ethical and sustainable tourism. During her time in university as a research assistant for a sociology professor, she realized she can’t fully understand cultures from a safe distance. She quit her job to become a full-time “voluntourist,” which brings her to places where she can immerse in local communities and support their causes. On top of writing, one of Bonnie’s priorities is offering women advice on how to stay safe while solo backpacking.