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5 Essential Hiking Tips for Beginners

5 Essential Hiking Tips for Beginners

Most of us need to exercise more, but we balk at the idea of paying for a gym membership, or get bored when stuck on a treadmill. If you are that kind of person, you may think that hiking is a better idea. Hiking lets you get some fresh air and explore the beauties of nature; you can go on all sorts of varied routes instead of the same exercises day after day, and it is fantastic exercise.

But hiking in the great outdoors is a much different experience from a stroll in the park, and a hiking beginner has to prepare thoroughly before setting out. Here are some crucial tips for any hiking beginner hiker to both to enjoy themselves and be safe.

1. Know Your Limits

The very first time I went hiking, I chose to follow along with my sister, who had been hiking in the mountains for years. While it was a great experience and the mountains were beautiful, I was completely unprepared for the challenge, and ran out of breath and energy way before she did.

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Hiking can be harder than it looks, and time spent in the gym or jogging on a paved sidewalk will not make you accustomed to walking up a steep dirt path, or navigating through branches. If you are a beginning hiker, look for beginner’s trails regardless of your physical condition and then work your way up. It is better to start with something too easy than push too hard and risk either injury ,or turning yourself off to hiking.

2. Avoid Hiking Alone

My first experience with hiking alongside my sister was a tough one, and I very well may have stopped early had I been by myself. But I kept up at it because I did not want to disappoint her.

Hiking alongside a companion like I did is crucial for a variety of reasons. There is the motivation factor, as noted above, and hiking alongside someone more experienced can teach you a lot. But the most important reason is safety. Traveling in a group will help deter wild animals and ensure that one of you can get help or perform first aid if the other gets injured. This is one of the key hiking safety tips all beginners should pay heed to.

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If you are having trouble finding someone to hike with, do not hesitate to ask on Facebook, or check out regional outdoors groups. The Outbound Collective has a good list of places where you can look to find a hiking partner.

3. Know the Ten Essential Supplies, But Don’t Overpack

Any hiking guide will talk about the Ten Essentials that you have to bring when going hiking. It does not matter whether you are simply taking a short two to three-hour hike, or are going to camp out overnight. You need food and water, a map and compass to help navigate the area, an emergency shelter, and a fire starter in case you have to stay out overnight, and so on.

But there are also things that you do not need to bring when going on a hike. While some first aid is essential, you do not need some massive pack containing medicines and splints, or a billion things that you don’t really know how to use anyway. Outside of the Ten Essentials, ask yourself if you are really going to need something on your hike, and don’t bring it if the answer is “maybe.”

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4. Check the Forecast

Bad weather can be an inconvenience at best and dangerous at worst. Rain and snow makes trails more slippery and streams harder to cross, lightning can be dangerous if you are stuck in a high place, and heat and cold have a way of sneaking up on you.

Always check the forecast at a website like NOAA.gov the night before you are planning a hike, as well as right before you leave, and learn to check the skies for things like approaching storm clouds. You do not have to necessarily turn back if there is just a light shower, or even a storm, but always prepare in advance.

5. Tell Someone Before You Leave

No matter how much you prepare before a hike, things can go wrong. There are plenty of stories out there about experienced hikers who make a few wrong decisions and find themselves lost or in deep trouble. Satellites and cell phones can sometimes help you get in touch with rescuers, but the most reliable method is to let a friend know in advance that you are hiking, and tell them to call the authorities if you are not back by a certain time.

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Do give some leeway. If you think you will be hiking for three hours, then tell your friend to call if you are not back in six hours. This will give you a cushion if things go a little wrong or if you just want to stop and enjoy the scenery for a while.

Featured photo credit: Joel Kamer via flickr.com

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Published on December 12, 2019

30-Minute Morning Workout Routine for Maximum Fitness

30-Minute Morning Workout Routine for Maximum Fitness

Thirty minutes in the morning is about the usual time people can comfortably set aside nearly every day to dedicate towards something to better themselves. What can we really do in such a short amount of time? Is it good to start working out in the morning and how do I start?

These are all the usual questions I hear when people ask me this question. My simple reply is always yes.

Any movement is better than no movement at all. Since it is the very minimal time, it would be better than you do it way more often, maybe around 5-6 times a week.

The Best Morning Workout Routine

The best workout regardless of the time of the day is going to be something that you can ultimately stick to time and time again. If you’re starting out, this might mean just walking for 15 minutes until you are sure that you can keep this routine then add something more challenging.

Making a habit is number one. Remember, any movement is good movement.

Here’s a short routine I designed to focus on hitting major muscle groups with the least amount of time.

Warm-Up

Every workout requires a good warmup that will increase the heart rate, body temperature and help all the muscles, tendons and ligaments be prepped for movement. This can take different forms for varying fitness levels, ranging from a brisk walk, jog or light run.

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Ideally, we would do this for about 5 minutes, for the sake of time, we will reduce it to about 2.5 minutes.

Dynamic Warm-Ups / Movement Prep

Another very important part of a workout. Helping “unlock” that range of motion in a joint to help tolerate movement under load. This a very important part of a workout as it may help prevent injuries during a workout.

Here is a list of dynamic stretches with videos and tutorials.

Sample Routine:

Muscle Release & Activation

Another optional warm-up is releasing and activating your muscles. You can choose tools such as a lacrosse ball and a foam roller.

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Here is a list of muscle release and activation exercises.

These you could do for 1 set of 15 – 45 seconds each.

Sample Routine:

  • Chest (1 Set of 15 – 45 seconds each)
  • Back (1 Set of 15 – 45 seconds each.

This workout should take over 15-30 mins long.

Goblet Squat to Dumbbell Chest Press (Back to Back)

2-3 sets of 12 reps(per exercise), 30 seconds rest.

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Romanian Deadlift to Dumbbell Row (Back to Back)

2-3 sets of 12 reps (per exercise), 30 seconds rest.

Plank

2 sets of 1 min, 30 seconds rest. Pick any variation you want!

Stretching

Post-workout stretching is so important and many times ignored. After your workout you are tired and just want to get out of the gym and just go home and go to sleep. We have all been there. But taking those few extra minutes to stretch and relax can be very beneficial. It can help improve our flexibility as long as we are consistent with it, helping reduce that post-workout tension, tight legs, tight back which can all be pretty nagging the day after or two days post-workout. Stretching can also be very therapeutic when it comes to mental clarity and help us feel a lot better.

Stretching Routine (15 seconds per side)

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Bonus: How to Start Working Out in the Morning

Sometimes morning workouts don’t feel good. This is totally normal if you aren’t used to waking up early in the morning. Movement is good at any time of the day especially if you only have time in the morning.

Keeping the same old sleep routine and expecting to feel different isn’t the answer. When you wake up in the morning, you want to feel ready to go and energized, not sleep deprived and hitting snooze.

Getting to bed hours earlier is very important. Ideally about 7-8 hours of solid sleep, this is not including the time it takes you to fall asleep. About 2 hours before bed, turning off all the lights, televisions and cellphones may just help you be able to fall asleep quicker.

If you want to be fitter and stay energized, simply make as little time as 30 minutes a day to workout!

More Workout Routines

Featured photo credit: Julia Ballew via unsplash.com

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