While you should always get yourself into shape before hitting the trails, hiking is no doubt one of the best forms of exercise you can do. Especially if you’d rather get outside than have a gym membership, spring is right around the corner and it’s the ideal time for getting fit. Though there’s plenty of workouts you can do pre-hiking, there’s also the option as using hiking as your main form of exercise. If your New Year’s resolution was to get more gym time, there are some better alternatives. Hiking overall has a lot of health benefits, and who needs the gym when you have the entire backcountry as your fitness center, anyway?
Trade in the Treadmill for Longer Hikes
The treadmill is a decent machine. You can run on it as long as you want, change the slope, increase speed, and even see how many calories you’re burning in the process. Though the outdoors isn’t exactly digitized, you can do exactly the same thing outside. And, you won’t need to watch the clock stressing over how many minutes you have left until your run is over.
Walking or running outside gives you the same workout as a treadmill, but you’ll be surrounded by beautiful nature instead of the interior of a hot, sweaty gym. You can also choose your hike based off the type of terrain and the appropriate level you’re looking for. You’ll be surprised how much a long hike will help with your endurance. Wear a fitness watch to calculate your workout or download a hiking app which can tell you all the same information a treadmill can.
Ditch the Dumbbells for Rock Climbing
One reason people hit the gym is to increase their muscle, tone their upper-bodies, and strengthen their overall physique. If you can’t stand waiting in line for the weights, then add a little rock-climbing adventure to your next hiking trip.
Though it takes a lot of skill and experience to become a pro rock-climber, there’s no problem getting started now. Rock climbing is one of the most enjoyable activities you can do in the outdoors. Before you know it, you’re body will be changing right in front of your eyes. Though, you probably won’t notice since you’ll be having too much fun.
Skip the Pool, Improve Your Joints Outdoors
A lot of people prefer to get their exercise in a swimming pool at the gym or the local community center. After all, swimming can be one of the best forms of exercise there is. It’s no question that swimming is perfect for people that have joint problems and need an elastic environment to be able to work out.
For those who love the water, try trading in the chlorine for a natural lake. There’s countless trails around the U.S where you can find beautiful lakes or waterfalls that you can take a dip in. You can try a coastline hike in Hawaii where you’ll get yourself down to a gorgeous beach to swim. Consider a cliff dive where you can land in water just waiting to be swam. Sometimes, long hikes can hurt your joints, but if you take your time and don’t push it, a little hike down to some water (with a hiking pole) can actually put more movement back into them.
Who Needs a Stairmaster When You Can Mountain Climb?
We get it. You want to make those leg muscles stronger. You want to be able to hike up to your 5th floor apartment without panting. You want to be able to take the stairs at work without feeling winded. If you’ve been to the gym, then you know all about the StairMaster.
StairMasters are pretty cool machines, but what if you could get the same exact workout while backpacking? Everywhere you look in the U.S, there’s an amazing mountain trail you can climb, that’s not only breathtaking, but will give you the workout you need. Not only that, there’s also natural staircases you can experience, too. Like most trails, mountain hikes are labeled based on their level of difficulty, so before you go, you can decide which hike is best for your own personal fitness goals.
There’s many exercises you can do at the gym that you can just as easily do on a hiking trip. Not only will you have the freedom to move around as much as you want, but you don’t have to worry about waiting for a machine or other people watching you. You can hit the trail at your own pace, and not have to leave at the end of a one-hour workout session.
For those who have a fitness goal in mind, like losing weight, being able to run for longer, or increasing the muscle tone in your body, consider trading in your gym pass for a free pass to the outdoors. Forcing yourself to go to the gym can be hard, but adding your work-out to a beautiful hike is a little more exciting. A hiking trip will not only help you burn calories, strengthen your muscles, and even give you that six-pack you might be hoping for, but it will help your mind and heart as much as everything else.