As the temperatures start to climb, more and more people head outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and get some exercise. One of the most popular activities among older adults is hiking.
Not only does hiking get you out of the house, when
done regularly it helps reduce arthritis, eases joint and knee pain, boosts
bone density, and improves cardiovascular health. Some studies have also shown
that hiking can also decrease depression, isolation, and loneliness.
Follow these tips to get the most out of the good weather.
While not all hikes are long, uphill struggles, if the
most exercise you get every day is walking to your mailbox, you’ll need to
build up your muscles and cardio if you want your hike to last more than 10
When building up your endurance, the best thing to do
is take it slow. For the first few weeks, walk around your neighborhood (if
possible) or go to a hike that has paved trails and few inclines/declines.
Start off at 15 minutes and then work your way up from
there. Make sure you bring water with you as seniors need extra hydration.
If you want to spice up your training, you can try
other cardio workouts like walking in the morning and biking or swimming in the
afternoon. You can also change up your route so you’re not walking the same
paths every day.
You want to work your way up to walking 5–10 miles easily. From there, you can start incorporating small
hills and then move on to somewhat easy rock scrambles.
Get Good Equipment
Equipment is essential for hiking. Even if you don’t
plan on doing a very hard trail, you’ll still want some good gear to minimize
injuries and falls. A few things you’ll need include:
You’ll want to invest in hiking shoes or, at the very least, sneakers with good grip and cushioning.
When on a hike, trekking poles can help you keep your balance and also help you detect potential tripping hazards like rocks or tree roots.
You need to stay hydrated on the trail so make sure you bring a good size water bottle.
Hiking burns a lot of
calories. Bring some trail mix or other easy to carry snacks like dried fruit
Listen to Your Body
If you’re on a popular trail, you might notice a lot
of other hikers breezing past you. It can be tempting to increase your pace and
try to keep up, but there’s no reason to. Hiking isn’t a competition.
If you push yourself too far, at best you might have
to turn around and go home early, at worst you could get seriously injured.
There’s no shame in taking breaks to catch your breath if you’re feeling
winded. Besides, a break is a great opportunity to enjoy nature and practice
Whether you take breaks every 15 minutes or 30
minutes, you’ll inevitably get a good workout. Yes, it might be disappointing
if you can’t get the best views, but the more you train your endurance and
core, the further you’ll go.
Address Foot Issues
If you’re dealing with foot issues like plantar
fasciitis, arch pain, or ankle problems, you’ll need to get these sorted out
before you start hiking.
This might mean spending some time in physical therapy
to build up your muscles and targeting specific problem areas. To prevent these
issues from reoccurring, you can do the following:
- Wear compression socks.
- Find better shoes and use insoles that support your arch.
- Do some stretches to loosen the muscles in your feet.
- Perform strengthening exercises.
- Practice some self-massage techniques to relieve the pain.
Plan and Research
Before you head off to the trail, you should take the
time to dig up information on it. The more you know the better as you don’t
want to run into any surprises while you’re out.
Many trails have a page you can check out for updates
such as trail closures, warnings, and other information. For more informal
trials, you might need to read user reviews to get a sense of the
If it’s your first time hiking the trail, you should
try to do it in a group setting. Check to see if there’s a local hiking group
in your area, and ask if they are planning to hike a trail that you’re
interested in. There’s safety in numbers, plus you can make some new friends.
Look for groups that are more on the casual side or
see if there’s one specifically geared for seniors. More serious groups require
all hikers to keep up with the group and some tend to go very fast.
Once you have found your trail, it’s time to make some
plans. Before choosing the location and trail, decide how long you want to be
out. This will affect how much you need to pack, what time you should arrive,
and what trails you choose.
Hiking is a great activity as it helps get you moving
and gets you out in nature.
What are your favorite outside activities? What are
some tips you have for hikers? Have you gone on a hike recently? How did you
prepare for it? We’d love to get your input!