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Setting Adventurous Fitness Goals – How To Get Motivated, Healthy And Have More Fun

Posted May 26 2012 1:59pm

We’ve all heard of the great lengths some people to go for charity…

Most of us have even pledged a few dollars to a friend who promises to try skydiving or run a marathon for a good cause, but the truth is that there are many reasons to undertake a major outdoor challenge. Raising much needed money for a charity is just one reason to tackle a mountain peak or complete a long-distance footpath.

Having a goal in sight is the best of all possible motivations. If we’ve booked flights out to Mount Kilimanjaro even the laziest amongst us will get down to the gym and make a real effort to get in shape – because you know you’ve got to be prepared for that!

Hiking Challenges

Hiking challenges are some of the most popular outdoor fitness adventures. Anyone can get involved and choose the route that is right for them. People who have the time and the necessary skills can choose something long and difficult like the 2650 mile Pacific Coast Trail or the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayas, and those who don’t can choose something just out of reach. It might be a case of walking across the state or the county, or reaching the summit of Mount Washington on foot.

Hiking In The Himalayas picture

You don't have to go hiking in the Himalayas to have an adventure!

You don’t have to be fit to start out with. Leave plenty of time before the big day and schedule a few practice day hikes in the nearest National Park. If you’re not already an outdoor enthusiast, joining a local hiking club can be an excellent way to pick up skills and discover the best trails in your area. Almost every town has an outdoor club of some kind and they’re usually very welcoming and a good place to make new friends too.

Training For Your Adventure

Time in the gym can really help. The Stairmaster is the obvious choice for those tackling a mountain hike, but improving aerobic fitness is key. Spin classes are very good and so is running, either on a treadmill or outside. Remember, every step you take in the training phase brings you closer to the view from that peak.

Closer to the day of the challenge (or the first day if your goal is the end of a long footpath) it’s a good idea to start training with a backpack on. First of all, make sure the straps and back system are correctly adjusted. Either follow the fitting directions carefully or get advice from the staff at a specialist outdoor store. Pack the bag as you would on the day so the weight is about right, then try a treadmill or an easy Stairmaster workout.

Hiking with a hefty backpack is much harder than hiking without. If you’re prepared, you won’t get that terrible sinking feeling when you first put on a loaded pack. Over time carrying a well-sized backpack will improve your core strength, so there are rewards as well!

Of course, great hikes are their own reward. Spend a few days on Peru’s Inca Trail and the memories will last a lifetime, but you don’t have to go that far for an incredible outdoor experience. Make your way to the top of any mountain and you’ll almost certainly see something that nobody in a car or a train could catch. Some views are only ever seen by hikers, climbers, and people prepared to get there the hard way.

It might be a waterfall with a perfectly clear pool at the bottom or the sight of deer grazing in a meadow. Your prize might be a mountain panorama or a tiny rare orchid by the trail. You never know quite what you’ll find in the backwoods.

Clingman's Dome In Tennessee picture

Clingman's Dome in Tennessee is a gorgeous hiking adventure!

The best thing about hiking as a fitness activity is that one challenge is never enough. Reach the top of Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee and you might just be inspired to try a peak in the Rockies or follow the Appalachian Trail right up to Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness next summer. The fitter you get, the more wonderful the places your feet can take you.

About The Author: Jess is a long-distance hiker and a rock climber. She recently completed a 26-mile mountain race for a good cause, and when at home she writes for a leading outdoor retailer. Appalachian Outdoors supply everything from ice axes to Keen Shoes .

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