start hiking

How to start and improve in hiking?

Walking is a natural act for human beings, something that we learn since we are babies and serves us as a mean of locomotion throughout our lives.  But it has other advantages, because it is in itself a very complete aerobic exercise, which mobilizes our body and strengthens our vital systems.

Now, because modern life imposes a very fast pace, we tend to use other means of transportations to move at full speed from one place to another.  We hardly walk anymore.

If we add to that, thanks to the internet, there are many things that we can do in front of a computer screen, such as shopping, ordering food at home or talking with friends, our lives tend to be even more sedentary.

To avoid this, more and more people choose to exercise outdoor, and hiking is an excellent option.  This allows us to combine exercise with traveling and contemplate the natural beauties that surround us, learn about the culture, history and idiosyncrasy of different regions and help to raise our self-esteem.

Our early steps as trekkers

Iniciarse en senderismo
Start hiking /Photo by Hernann Traud

Of course, it is not the same walking a few streets in the city that facing a several kilometers hike, sometimes in steep and difficult terrain.  In addition, like any other sport activity, hiking requires equipment and training and has its own codes and signals, which it is necessary to know and respect.

In addition, like any other sport activity, hiking requires equipment and training and has its own codes and signals, which it is necessary to know and respect.

The good news is that everyone can practice it, regardless of age, sex or physical condition.  As long as you can walk without health risk, you can choose trails that are consistent with your characteristics and that do not represent an effort that you can’t overcome.

The good thing about this activity is that as we practice it on a regular basis, we will improve our performance and we will be able to face more demanding challenges.  Therefore, it is best to choose easy and short routes at first, so you do not end up exhausted at the end of the day, but energized and eager for the next adventure.

The right equipment

One of the most important aspects to start hiking successfully is to equip ourselves correctly.

The right equipment
The right equipment / Photo by Maxmann

That does not mean that from the beginning you should buy the complete set of professional gear: at the beginning you will not face great slopes, walk with snowshoes or even bivouac.  However, you can take advantage of a good pair of hiking shoes, and much better half ankle boots, to protect your feet. Make sure they are also waterproof and breathable, and have good grip on difficult terrain.  You can learn more about the right footwear here .

Another aspect that we tend to forget is to complement the footwear with good socks for trekking, to avoid chafing.  As for the clothes, you must choose according to the season and the conditions of the route, always keeping in mind that it should be light, breathable and comfortable.  Here you can learn more about the right clothing for hiking

Complete your equipment with a suitable backpack to carry water, food, extra clothes and everything you need on the route. Other appropriate items to start hiking are walking sticks, one for each hand: in addition to help you walk, they can be essential to finish a route after a twisted ankle.  They are very useful in descents, when the knees and heels load the most, so walking sticks may be a good addition to our basic hiking gear.

Tips to start hiking

Tips to start hiking
Trekking / Photo by Khamkhor

·         A very important aspect to practice hiking is hydration.  You should always carry at least two liters of water per day, and drink small sips every 25 minutes even if you are not thirsty.  Also bring some foods that allow you to quickly replenish your energies. In this article we discuss this topic in detail: Eating and staying hydrated on summer routes

·         Before going out for a walk, you must carefully study the route and atmospheric conditions that prevail on it.  Take into account factors such as the distance to travel, the slope of the route, estimated duration including stops, the difficulty and technical level.  Read the comments and opinions of other hikers who have already made the trail.

·         Walkaholic app is a great help for the hiker: it gives you not only the trail map and GPS tracking of your position, but also offers many additional details such as downloadable maps, accommodation (includes shelters and camping sites) , slope in route and much more.

·         Always carry your smartphone with fully charged battery (and perhaps with a portable solar panel or battery) as a security measure: if something goes wrong, you can always ask for help quickly.

·         Remember that, especially in the mountains, the weather can change from one moment to the next.  It is always convenient to carry a rain jacket in your backpack to protect yourself from the rain and some warm clothes, even if it is summer.

·         The first outings should be short, no more than a 3 hours walk.  In time you can take greater challenges, as your body strengthens and adapts to walk outdoors.

Improving as a hiker

Although it is not mandatory to enjoy the benefits of hiking, if we are going to face more demanding challenges it is a good idea to increase our physical shape, especially if we want to start trekking or mountain hiking.

A little training, in addition to being healthy for our body, will allow us to fully enjoy the route by performing more with less effort.  Also an adequate physical preparation decreases the risk of injuries and avoids muscular overloads.

physical preparation for hiking

Hiking for your health / Photo by David Marcu

Obviously, if hiking is walking, the best preparation is to do it more often.  With walks of one hour three times a week, you will improve your lung capacity and strengthen your muscles on a regular basis, in addition to maintaining a better physical shape.

Avoid paved routes for these walks as much as possible.  In addition to suffer less overloads by stepping on softer terrain, the land has the advantage of offering small obstacles such as rocks and roots, so when walking on them you will begin to get used to stepping cautiously, which will increase your concentration when you are on route.

If you are going to start on the mountain, you must train your lower body with exercises such as step, spinning or going up and down stairs.

Do not forget that both before training and when you start a route, you must warm up properly.  Also keep in mind that, after a training session or at the end of a day’s march, you should not stop abruptly.

Slow down the pace, do some stretching and then perform a small meditation session.  This way your body will know that it must lower its metabolism and prepare to rest after a demanding activity.

Improving as a hiker
Improving as a hiker / Photo by Marianazmeirelles en pixabay.com

If you have any questions or wish to share a piece of advice, please do not hesitate to leave us a comment so that the entire community can benefit from your experience

And if you are new to hiking, be sure that you will have the encouragement and support of the entire Walkaholic community, a family that always grows.

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