Studies show that seniors over 50 who walk at least 4 hours a week lower their risk of hospitalisation due to cardiovascular problem. Other health benefits include a lower risk of heart disease, improved balance, increased endurance, better sleep, and better blood pressure.
If you are over 50, you should consider taking up hiking to enjoy all the benefits it has to offer. Hiking is a great way to work out and a great way to get away from your hectic daily schedule. Here are 10 tips for hikers over 50 to guide you along the way.
Make Adequate Preparations
It is important to ensure that your physician has cleared you to work out before you go out on your first trail. Once the doctor clears you, ensure that you ease up to the hike. If you have not walked a lot lately, start going for strolls, ensuring that each one is a bit longer every day leading up to the day of the hike. Start on smaller trails and eventually work your way up to something longer.
Carry an Emergency Pack
It is always good to be prepared for an emergency even on short hikes. Pack an emergency kit with extra food and water, first aid supplies, and a way to start a fire such as a lighter. It is also important to ensure that your service will get service wherever you go or that you have a means to contact somebody should you not get service in a particular area.
Select Your Trail Wisely
You must never feel pressured to go beyond your comfort level when you hike and never feel the need to try keeping up with your friends. If you are hiking with somebody else, do proper research and find a trail that’s a decent pace for both of you. Listen keenly to your body and never feel bad about taking breaks since it can be the perfect opportunity to take in the lovely landscapes.
You don’t have to invest in fancy hiking clothes, but avoid wearing jeans because they retain moisture as will anything made of cotton. Moisture-wicking synthetic workout clothes such as yoga or athletic shirts and pants.
Dress in layers that you can strip off. If the trail is not craggy, sturdy tennis shoes will be great. Otherwise, invest in a rubber-soled hiking boot. Look for a clearly defined heel and a knobby thread. It is also important to check the weather forecast before embarking on your hike.
Stretch Before Your Hike
It is always advisable to do a few stretches before hitting the trail to warm up the body and rev up and loosen your cold muscles. It does not necessarily have to be something fancy, just a few minutes of side-to-side waist stretches, gentle toe touches, and over-the-head arm extensions will do.
Try Hiking Poles or a Walking Stick
It can be a good idea to use a hiking poles or walking stick to help with balance. It can also be useful in rocky terrain and helps when hiking uphill. Hold your pole or stick such that your elbows are at a comfortable 90-degree angle.
Try experimenting with your pattern of movement: Pole or stick forward with the same side leg or pole or stick forward with opposite leg. Either way, push off the ground for leverage with every step. Hiking poles or a walking stick will make your hike fun, but they are not a must.
Hike at Your Own Pace
Hiking is not concerned with speed and it is not a race. Find a hiking rhythm that works for you. Start out walking at your regular pace, and then check your breathing after a few minutes. If your breathing is still normal, consider increasing the pace slightly.
However, if you are breathing heavily, you should start thinking about slowing down. Stick to a pace that raises your breathing slightly but does not make you sweat. Don’t forget to take in the scenery and stop for breaks too.
Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration is critical to any exercise and hiking is not an exception. It is important to ensure that you pack enough water and some extra, so that you never find yourself dehydrated in the middle of your hike. If you are concerned about not having enough water, it can be a good idea to invest in a water filtration system of sorts that lets you drink water directly from lakes or streams.
Watch Your Clock
To start, plan on hiking just 30 minutes to 1 hour. You should avoid being too ambitious about the amount of time it takes you to traverse the average hiking trail. Beginners can comfortably cover about two miles an hour on flat, easy trails, but not as much on a moderate trail that has some changes in elevation.
If you plan to hike towards a site such as a waterfall or lake, keep an eye on the amount of time that will realistically take. It is also important to be off the trail by sunset because the chances of falling in the dark are higher.
Join a Hiking Club
Once you have developed a love for hiking, you should consider joining a hiking club where members have meet-ups or travel to hiking destinations as a group. Hiking as part of a group is an excellent way to learn more about the sport, discover notable hiking trails, and meet likeminded seniors. Some clubs offer hikes throughout the year and promote wildlife activism and conversation.
You don’t have to be in the best shape of your life to have a successful and memorable hike. The important thing to remember and look forward to is that no matter how you feel when you leave, you will return alive, refreshed, and with a sense of accomplishment. Follow the 10 tips provided here to have the most memorable and successful hike yet!