Physical fitness for hiking or trekking

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Physical fitness is an important part of any outdoor activity. But for those people interested in getting into trekking, physical fitness is probably less of an issue at the start than you might think. Since you will be starting with short treks and working your way up, your fitness level is likely to build along with your experience. An enthusiastic attitude is far more important at this stage in the game. You can be the fittest person in the world but if you have no genuine interest in trekking it will not become a long term activity for you.

However, if you are planning to join a commercial trekking or mountaineering expedition you will need to develop a high level of fitness so that you can comfortably and safely endure several weeks on the trail.

Physical training

There is no single fitness program to suit every person. We are all different. You are advised to consult a fitness training professional to work out a program that suits you but here are a few suggestions:

Just do it: There is no better training than trekking itself. Get a daypack on and get out there as often as you can. But if, like most of us, your free time is limited there are other things you can do to fill the gaps.

Treadmill: A treadmill is an awesome machine for building fitness and stamina. It is the ideal instrument for helping to build a rhythm because it can run at a constant speed. A good treadmill will also have an incline function to simulate hills and a custom program function that lets you ‘dial your own trek’, hills and all! One big advantage of training on a treadmill is that you can gradually increase your pace and train your body to perform at a faster pace comfortably. This is vitally important if you eventually plan on joining a mountaineering group where safety and efficiency require the entire team to move quickly and together. For example, in a storm or avalanche prone environment. It’s worth a thought at this stage.

Weight training: This is a subject that has sparked hot debate in the past among trekkers and mountaineers. Some seasoned trekkers will tell you that there is absolutely no need to weight train for this sport, with some claiming that they have never lifted a dumbell in their lives but can trek for days on end. This may be the case, but again, everyone is different. Remember that your body is the vehicle that you are preparing to take offroad. Commonsense suggests that if the various muscle groups are worked and exercised regularly then they will perform more efficiently when the going gets tough and the trail gets rugged. Again, consult a fitness professional for advice on a program that suits your individual needs before attempting any of the above.

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