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Hiking Your Way to Health

As autumn approaches with soothing and calming temperatures, many of us look forward to opportunities for vigorous cardio activities that we’ve put aside because of the sometimes unbearable heat of the summer. It’s much easier to hike in the spring and fall, even in the peak afternoon hours, because the sun is not as intense.

Hiking is a lot of fun and a wonderful form of exercise for the entire family. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that regular hiking has on your body.

Hiking combines both cardiorespiratory and strength training activities. Hiking trains not only your heart and lungs, but also the large muscle groups of your legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and the gastrocnemius/soleus muscles of your calves.

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But hiking is not like other forms of exercise. As you may not be able to hike daily, it’s important to have acquired a good level of fitness before you begin to go out regularly. Also, hikers need to be prepared for anything. When you hike, it’s best to expect the unexpected and take along essential supplies: Water,Protein Bars or high-energy fruit like bananas, Sunscreen, Water-resistant clothes, Hiking Boots, Orientation tools like compasses, First aid items in case you fall and get a nasty cut.

Each of these items is necessary for a safe and enjoyable hike. You don’t want to run out of water or snacks. You don’t want to get sunburnt or rained on. And you certainly don’t want to get lost. According to Murphy’s Law, the one item that you neglect or forget to bring, is the one you will need on that hike. The best policy is to always be prepared.
In terms of fitness preparation, beginning hikers should be able to walk 4 miles at a fair pace. This will allow you to hike a two-mile trail with a modest elevation, covering a total of four miles out and back. Doing this type of hike a few times will provide the preparation needed for increasing your capabilities.

Hiking preparation also includes strength training. In a comprehensive strength training program, you exercise all major muscle groups once a week. This is done by performing “split routines” such as training chest and back, shoulders and arms, and legs on separate days. Your comprehensive strength training program works synergistically with your cardiorespiratory exercise. Visit an experienced physical therapist to make sure you’re in top notch condition before engaging in regular exercise.
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Consulting a trained professional will give you a better sense of what condition your body is in, and what types of exercise are most beneficial to you. Also, a professional will help you understand exactly how much is too much, and the precautions you need to take in order to avoid injury.
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2551 RR 611 Scotrun Plaza, Scotrun, PA 18355
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