Hiking can be construed as a walking routine, but there are some issues that hikers will come across more than walkers do. Although there is urban hiking in cities across the country, most people think of hiking as something done in the wilderness.
Like walking, hiking is a low-impact exercise with the added benefit of additional toning, balance and coordination that come from scrambling over rocks, stepping over tree roots and climbing up and down natural hills.
Possibly one of the greatest perks of hiking is the feeling that you’ve really escaped the hustle and bustle and are communing with nature. A bonus of this is that you’re likely to walk farther without realizing it when you’re on the trail.
To hike for fitness’ sake, you should keep your pulse between 65 and 75 percent of your maximum target heart rate. When on flat terrain, your stride should be like that when fitness walking–a heel strike followed by rolling up to your toes and pushing off. When you hit the uphills, you’ll have to shorten your stride and remember to use your other body parts to help. By using the force of your arms, you’ll save some strength in your legs for later.
As with walking, you’ll last longer and derive more benefits from hiking if you maintain a strong, upright posture throughout the activity. Your head should be straight, abs tucked in and shoulders down and back and chest up. Though it’s temping to let gravity carry you quickly downhill, keep your form in mind. Walking downhill works a different group of muscles, which means your muscles will be better balanced out if you walk down slower and in control.
Hiking at Night
If exercising at night is your only option, night hiking could be a great alternative for you. Groups like the Sierra Club may offer guided night hikes of varying degrees of activity and duration. As with other sports, participating in your activity at night offers you a new perspective, a chance to see different animals, and the ability to learn different ways of interacting with your environment.