Outdoor backpack hiking is not just for young people in their twenties. Outdoor enthusiasts of all ages are turning to backpack hiking. Folks over 50 are recognizing the numerous health benefits and the calming effects of a light cardio workout from flat or moderate incline trail walks. Surprisingly, in a world of “cut and paste” joints, many seniors are taking up hiking. They want to strengthen their core and improve muscles and joints to eliminate these procedures. A bonus is enjoying the beauty and wonder of nature during their hike. How exactly does hiking help the body?
Outdoor Backpack Hiking – Have You Forgotten How To Play?
Outdoor backpack hikers understand what it’s like to play outdoors. We all started very eager to play outside as a child. We would run and climb, twist and bend and get stronger because of it. The statement “if you don’t use it, you lose it,” is very true. We become adults in a career driven world and may not take the time for outdoor activities beyond maybe a brief neighborhood stroll.
Family Is The Perfect Reason To Play Like A Kid
When a family comes along, we have an opportunity to play alongside our children, which is very good, but there could be an 8-10 year span where that kind of play may not be all that physical. That’s a long time to let the body be in a randomly active state. Muscle mass and function begins to deteriorate in your 30’s. Inactive people can lose 3-5% each decade after age 30. Some loss is natural age-related progression, but you can control how much and how fast you decline by being as active as possible on a regular basis.
Outdoor Backpack Exercise – Gym Or No Gym?
My feeling on this subject is use the gym whenever you cannot be outside, such as during inclement weather. Otherwise, do your lungs, body and skin a favor by breathing fresh air while you are active every chance you get. You may have noticed that even in your early 40’s, your body is not the well-toned machine it was 15 years ago. Think about where it will be even 10 years from now.
…And Then Comes The Grandchildren
Life can give you another chance to feel and act a bit younger as you revel in the glow of being a grandparent. You may wonder how will I keep up with them? Strength training for adults over 50 is becoming very popular with folks who can’t bear the thought of only sitting on a couch for the next couple decades.
Outdoor Backpack Trail Walking Can Help
Seniors have discovered that backpack hiking has excellent cardio benefits and will build strength in their glutes, quadsriceps, hamstrings and the muscles in their hips and lower legs will regain muscle tone. Carrying a lightweight outdoor backpack adds weight bearing exercise to a very enjoyable experience that won’t seem like boring exercise at all.
Outdoor Backpack Hikes – How Do I Get Started?
Let’s get real for a minute. In rare instances there have been hikers in their 70’s who have traversed week long hikes and enjoyed every minute. If you are new to it, or if you have been sedentary for awhile, you need to work slowly to train your muscles and joints for what your body needs to do.
A more practical approach to begin hiking would be to ask your doctor to recommend stretching exercises specific to your age and body. If you have no physical issues other than needing to strengthen your muscles more, there are exercise examples online that you can reach with instructions exactly how to do them.
Hiking Will Regain What You Re-Train
Again, this does not have to be in a gym. But you will have to retrain your weakened areas gradually in preparation of the form of hiking you are interested in. There is no shame and you will still get multiple health benefits from flat trail hiking. You need not climb mountains to be healthy, unless you want to, but you still have to be physically prepared.
Outdoor Backpack Usage – How Much Must I Hike To Make A Difference?
Let’s say you are 60 and you want to enjoy the Great Outdoors and tone your body at the same time. Hiking a flat trail for at least four hours a week, for example an hour a day for four days, will provide increased endurance, improved balance, a lower risk of heart disease, and better blood pressure. An added benefit will include sleeping better at night and more energy during the day. You’ll also find this will improve your mood.
A walk in your neighborhood is really more like a stroll, and although it is good exercise, many aspects that hiking can provide will be missing. Put a little weight in your hiking backpack with 2 water bottles, an extra sweater and some protein snacks, a safety whistle and your cell phone. You are now doing weight-bearing exercise that strengthens muscles without even giving it a thought.
Outdoor Backpack Treks – You Choose Your Terrain
Outdoor backpack hiking, when done regularly, will acclimate your body to movement. Once you’re comfortable hiking, you may want to up your game by choosing a trail with more elevation, rockier instead of a paved park trail or longer in duration. Ease into your choices.
Dress For Comfort And Weather Conditions During A Hike
Be sure to wear warm or cool enough clothing, proper footwear and non-cotton socks to avoid blisters. Get a set of hiking poles or a walking stick to make you feel more secure over rougher terrain. Your balance will improve. Always do a few stretches before you begin your trek to loosen up your muscles. A few toe touches and side-to-side and over-the-head arm extensions will prepare your body.
Outdoor Backpack Hikes – Start Slow
Start your hike by walking at your normal pace. You can always increase it, but make sure you can breathe normally without sweating as you hike. Take time to enjoy the natural setting around you with the beautiful views. This is not a marathon and you are in charge of how long and how far you go. It’s fun to pack a non-refrigerated lunch and a blanket to stop for lunch and a rest. Always plan to be off the trail before sunset. Check your local area for hiking trails close to where you live.
Backpacking Makes You Feel Empowered
Regardless of your age or current physical shape, you can do this. You’ll love the empowerment of accomplishment when you ease into backpack hiking. Your body will listen and yield to your commands. Your lungs will breathe in fresh air and Vitamin D will be absorbed into your skin from the sun. Age is not your dictator, your mind rules your actions. Incorporating day pack hiking into your routine will benefit every body of every age. Happy hiking!