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Get Ready, Get Set, Hike
Part 1 of 2
By: Jackie Wright

We live in one of the most spectacular settings in the world here in Grand County, Colorado. And, now that the snow is melting after a fabulous skiing, snowboarding snowmobiling and snowshoeing season, it is time to prepare for all of the warm weather outdoor activities at our door step.

Mountain trail hiking is one of many excellent outdoor activities that provides us with beautiful views, vistas and fresh air and can be an effective form of cardiovascular and muscular endurance exercise which improves stamina and burns calories. However, until the weather is a little more cooperative, below are three activities/exercises which can be performed indoors and help you get ready to hit the trail.

Before you begin, always properly warm up for five to ten minutes first and if you are not exercising regularly at this time, check with your physician before you begin any exercise program and that includes hiking!

1) All forms of cardiovascular exercise such as walking, running, cycling and swimming will improve the stamina required for successful hiking. However, cycling and swimming are basically non-weight bearing forms of cardiovascular exercise. Therefore, since weight-bearing cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or running on a treadmill or stair climbing (*see #2 for specific stair climbing guidelines) more closely simulate the stamina and muscular strength/endurance that hiking requires, these activities should be included. Consequently, out of your three-to-five day a week cardio workouts, plan on one to three of those focused upon weight-bearing cardiovascular exercise.

2) Stair climbing (improves cardiovascular endurance and prepares the legs and core for the strength it takes to ascend and descend hills). Using a staircase, stair climber or a step platform, step for one to three minutes initially and work your way up to 15-30 minutes of continuous stepping, one to three times per week.

3) Squats (works the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal and core muscles).

  • Begin standing on the floor with your legs more than shoulder distance apart, the head, eyes, shoulders, hips, knees and toes all pointing forward.
  • The arms are relaxed at the sides of the body or you can flex and extend the arms at the shoulder joints as you squat down and up to provide a counterbalance.
  • Shoulders are rotated back and down, rib cage is lifted and the navel is pulled toward the spine throughout the exercise.
  • Hinging from the hip joint, lower the body down no lower than 90 degrees of knee flexion, so that the thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Then driving through your heels and clenching your buttocks, stand up extending the legs at the knee joint without locking the knees. Think of sitting down on a bench and then standing up.
  • If you have knee problems, you can modify this exercise by not going as low as the 90 degree position, or widening your stance, but keep the knees tracking over the heels never permitting the knees to shoot forward beyond the shoe laces.
  • The pelvis must remain in neutral throughout.
  • Perform this exercise two slow counts down and up, two-three sets of 8-12 repetitions, two to three times per week.
Click here to read part two of the series on getting ready to hike.
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