I am a very active person when it comes to the gym but never seem to make time for "natural" outdoor fitness activities like hiking or biking, my girlfriend is not very active but is trying to get into the habit. With this in mind we have been trying to find an activity that we can do together for fitness and "quality time". So, this Saturday my girlfriend and I decided to go for a hike in Banff National Park at Sundance Canyon . Hiking is a great activity for couples to do together because it will burn lots of calories and you get to enjoy the great outdoors together. I also enjoy the relaxing aspect of hiking with all the nature around and none of the hustle and bustle of the city. Another reason I love to hike is the price, it's free!
As a fitness buff I found our hike pretty easy but Carolyne had a rough go of it. The better shape you are in the more enjoyable and challenging your hikes can be. I think the key to building up your fitness for hiking is to do some jogging or cardio activity for general fitness, but you should also spend some time strengthening your legs. The stronger your legs are the easier it will be to climb those hills and scale the little walls that you come upon. As my readers know I use primarily kettlebells in my training to improve fitness and power. The kettlebell exercises I would to strengthen the legs are use are Pistol Squats, Clean and Squats, and any of the explosive moves such as snatches and cleans.
If you don't have a kettlebell I would recommend any variation of squat, especially one leg squats so that you can strengthen your knees and core at the same time. Probably the best way to get fit and strong enough for challenging hikes are hill sprints. Hill sprints will build the leg and especially the very underrated ankle strength that hiking will require. The other advantage of hill sprints is that they are a great way to burn calories! A challenging hill sprint work out will keep your metabolism revved up for hours afterwards, this means you are burning fat after the work out when you are at rest. If you don't have a big steep hill near your home just find a little one and use the idea in the video below.
Now, the only aspect of hiking that really kills me is the length of time the work out takes. I am in great shape but I did notice that I don't have the stanima that a serious hiker does. A three hour hike really takes a lot out of me. I think the only way to improve your stamina for hikes would really just be to go for lots of hikes! So, get outside with the people you love and enjoy the great outdoors while getting really fit!