Year of Fitness - Conquering Trails in the Sun

Year of Fitness - Conquering Trails in the Sun

When was the last time you exercised outside?

With the benefits from the sun, fresh air, and virtually limitless possibilities, committing to a workout regimen in the outdoors can be just the thing to take your fitness to the next level. There are hundreds of sports and ways to burn calories in the outdoors, but hiking is one that’s universal and available in every city in the world. Learn more about the adventure and fitness advantages that come from committing to working out in the outdoors for a year.

Out in the Sun - Benefits of Taking Your Workout Outside

Advantages of exercising outside are numerous, but the two main ones are that you’re out in the sun and breathing fresh air.

Why Workout in the Sun?

Not only will working out in the sun give you a glistening tan that enhances your look, but it also supplies you with Vitamin D, which is crucial for absorbing calcium and encouraging bone growth. It’s worth noting that long periods out in the sun can cause sunburn, so it’s recommended to apply sunscreen beforehand, especially if you’re fair-skinned.

Why is Fresh Air Better for You?

At first, it may seem that the air in your home or office is the same as the air outside, but that’s not the case. The air in the outdoors is much richer in oxygen than air that is enclosed inside of a man-made structure. As you might imagine, breathing air that’s richer in oxygen fuels your body more with every breath, so simply take your exercise routine outside to experience the difference for yourself.

Can You Really Get Fit By Hiking Regularly?

Hiking can be as easy as a walk around your nearest lake, or as intense as a trek through the Appalachian Trail, but either way, it provides an excellent workout. Although hikes can vary wildly in terms of their hills, obstacles, terrain, and other factors, any type of hike is an excellent way to burn calories. For every hour of hiking performed by a 160 lbs adult, they’ll burn around 430-440 calories per hour.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Doing Other Outdoor Sports?

While hiking is a versatile and effective workout you can do just about anywhere, other popular outdoor activities can help you get in the best shape of your life as well.

- Cycling - Moderate cycling for a 155 lbs adult burns about 563 calories per hour.

- Rock Climbing - You can burn 500-900 calories per hour depending on intensity.

- Running - The rule of thumb for runners is that you burn 100 calories per mile.

Overcoming Common Problems With Hiking

Excellent hiking options are available in nearly every city in America, so what’s keeping you from hitting the trails? From boredom to difficulty issues, people come up with a wide variety of excuses that keep them from getting out into nature. These tips will help you overcome these common complaints about hiking as a form of fitness.

Complaint: Hiking is Too Boring

Unfortunately, boredom is an all too common excuse that keeps people inside rather than out in nature. Boredom is in the eye of the beholder - someone who gets bored easily while hiking is also likely to have a lot of other complaints as well. Nevertheless, hiking in the exact same area can get monotonous, especially if it offers little in terms of scenery, challenge, or variety. Try these tips to make hiking more exciting:

  • Get to know a wide variety of trails in your area and vary where you hike.

  • Try hiking while listening to music or a podcast.

  • Find a group of hikers that keep the entire experience exciting.

Complaint: Hiking is Too Easy or Difficult

The person who has a bad opinion of hiking as a whole probably had brutal experiences of going on ultra long hikes or short, uninspired ones early in life. The fact is, hiking can be as challenging or easy as you make it. Try these ideas to adjust the difficulty of your hike:

Make Your Hike More Difficult

  • Incorporate jogging into part of your hike.

  • Choose a more challenging trail with varied terrain.

  • Plan a longer hike to challenge yourself.

Make Your Hike Easier

  • Make sure to bring enough water and snacks to keep your energy up.

  • Start with shorter hikes and build up to larger trails.

  • Read reviews to find an easy hike without challenging hills or terrain.

Key Benefits of Hiking: Cardio, Core, and Stress Relief

Any form of consistent exercise yields major benefits, for your oral, cardiovascular, and overall health. Hiking specifically can be an exhilarating experience that enhances your core, relieves stress, and boosts your cardio. Discover how hiking leads to these impressive benefits.

Hiking Improves Your Core Strength

The benefits to your core strength are even more evident when hiking trails that have a lot of hills and varied terrain. When you have to steady yourself and step at odd angles to hike up a series of rocks, it will engage your abs and provide an excellent workout for your entire core.

Hiking is Excellent Cardio

One crucial part of hiking as a fitness endeavor is that you keep moving. This can mean hiking for hours at a time without even realizing it, and all of that exercise is phenomenal for your cardiovascular system. While it is important to move constantly to reap the benefits of hiking, remember to take breaks as necessary to hydrate and recover.

Hiking Relieves Stress

The combination of being out in nature, breathing fresh air, and constantly moving is a triple threat when it comes to reducing the stress in your life. Hiking in areas that are wide open or have a lot to look at can also help you feel present and forget about the stress and technology that’s part of your daily life.

Keeping it Interesting Throughout the Year

As you continue to hike and make it a consistent part of your life, you’ll notice that you get better quickly. Trails that used to leave you breathing heavily will become commonplace as you become a more experienced hiker. Here are some ways to ensure that your hiking experience remains fun and beneficial throughout the year.

Incorporate Interval Training Into Your Hike

Interval training can be done in a wide variety of ways, but ultimately, it involves making part of your hike more difficult for a set interval of time. This can mean running every fifth minute, speed walking for 10 minutes then returning to a casual pace, sprinting for one minute of every ten, or however you want to do it. Ultimately, adding interval training into your hike is a good way to make it exponentially more challenging.

Travel to Different Well-Known Trails

Once you’ve hiked all of your local trails numerous times, it might be an enriching experience to seek others that may be in a nearby city or state. Not only will the change of scenery offer a new experience, but alternate terrains will provide a new challenge for your body as well.

Advanced Hiking - The Legendary Hiking Trails of America

When you’ve been sticking to a consistent hiking plan for months at a time, you may be ready for a true challenge - one you’ll never forget. Some hikes are well-known, and pose a real danger for all but the fittest and well-prepared hikers. Check out these harrowing options when you’re ready to take your hiking skills to the next level.

The Appalachian Trail

Feel like you’re hiking experience has prepared you to take on the most famous hike in America? Crossing 14 states and spanning over 2,000 miles, the Appalachian Trail is hiked by thousands of adventurous hikers each year. Not for amateurs or the faint of heart, you’ll have to prepare physically, financially, and wisely to have a successful trip. Think you have what it takes? Consider these tips for prepping for this unforgettable adventure.

  • Bears are a real concern - ensure all of your food is sealed in cans.

  • It’s recommended to budget about $1000 per month of hiking.

  • Completing this hike takes 5-7 months, so it’s truly an epic adventure.

Pacific Crest Trail

If you want to take on one of the most popular and epic hikes in the world, this one runs along the West Coast. Stretching from Mexico to Canada, the Pacific Crest Trail spans 2650 miles. You’ll see a lot of unforgettable scenery on the PCT, as it passes through 25 national forests and seven national parks. Hikers will travel through various mountains and will even be able to explore a volcanic region in Crater Lake National Park. For a truly remarkable challenge, hiking the PCT is an endeavor for the most experienced hikers. Here are fun facts about the PCT:

  • The center point of this massive hike is in Chester, CA near Mt. Lassen

  • The PCT is the second largest trail of the Triple Crown of Hiking.

  • The PCT is popular among “thru-hikers” who complete epic trails in one trip.

How Far Will Your Adventure Go?  

Whether you decide to hike a couple times a week to get some cardio and peace as you enjoy the environment with friends or alone, or you can’t wait to set aside months to take on a once in a lifetime adventure, hiking is a completely viable form of fitness. With boundless trails to explore and an ever-growing community of passionate hikers, making hiking your passion for a year will result in a fit body and memories that will last forever.