Hiking has numerous health benefits. Studies have shown that older people who are regular hikers perform better than the rest on memory and cognition tests.
On my hiking adventures, I came across several older people whose stamina surprised me. They weren’t tired as we would normally expect, but rather energetic. From what I have observed, hiking is a therapy in itself.
Here are ten essential hiking tips that every active senior should know.
1. Check with your doctor
Falling ill in the middle of your adventure spoils all the fun. Therefore, before planning your walk, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Considering the higher altitudes and the long distances you would be walking, a full medical examination is mandatory. This applies to all age groups.
If you have any health problems, please wait for him to recover before packing. Based on your health report, choose a trail that won’t make your condition worse.
Usually, if there are any problems with your lungs, your doctor can prescribe medications that can help your lungs adjust to the new conditions. Follow your doctor’s suggestions as you pack your first aid kit.
2. Build endurance
Hiking can be exhausting. It takes less than an hour to give up if your body doesn’t have the stamina.
Medical experts suggest strengthening your body through a rigorous exercise routine at least two months before hiking. Energize your core muscles and legs with basic exercises. Run short distances and gradually increase your pace. This burn will prevent fatigue on your walk.
Cardio sessions are another great option to train your entire body. But if any exercise hurts too much, don’t go ahead and switch to another.
You can join a gym or contact a personal trainer who can plan workouts and meals according to your physical condition.
3. Choose the right footwear
Your feet will work a lot while you walk. Therefore, choosing the right footwear is crucial if you don’t want to go home with sore feet.
There are an overwhelming number of models with hiking boots. Your selection depends on the terrain and climate of your destination.
Walking in an ill-fitting pair of shoes is just as bad as walking without shoes. Ask a specialist to measure your foot size (including foot volume) before purchasing.
You must try on the shoes with the socks that you will wear on the big day. Cotton socks when worn for long hours can cause blisters. So stick to synthetics.
4. Dress appropriately
From underwear to hats, pay attention to everything to ensure comfort.
Nylon underwear will prevent skin damage in intimate areas.
Wear long pants if the hiking area is surrounded by grass. If it is an arid area, shorts are obviously a better option. Don’t forget to bring a waterproof jacket. Your jacket should fit comfortably in your backpack, in case you don’t want to wear it.
Hats protect you from the scorching sun and warm your head in winter. Also, the hats look great. Select a hat according to the season.
Dressing for a hike in winter requires special care. This season requires layers. So go for merino wool underwear and synthetic outer layers.
5. Join hiking clubs
There may be several hikers in your neighborhood who share your enthusiasm and you may never have met them. Joining a hiking club is a great way to socialize doing what you love.
Expert hikers and volunteers run hiking clubs where they guide aspiring hikers and help active seniors.
No matter how many precautions we take, there is always room for mishaps in outdoor activities. Traveling in a group makes you feel safe and secure. You will also have someone to take care of you in case of a medical emergency.
Did I mention that group walks are more profitable than solo walks?
6. Pack ahead
Your hike might only be for a day, but you will have to pack a lot of essentials well in advance. Here is a basic list.
First aid kit Spare clothing set Headlamp Firestarters Long-life food Large amount of water / Hydration bladder Sleeping bag Printed maps and compass Multi-tool whistle Satellite messaging device / Personal locator beacon
You can customize the contents of your backpack but don’t overload it.
A good backpack is a must for every hiker. You can read the guide to the best hiking backpack 2021 for more information.
Stretching before a walk lubricates your joints, improves flexibility, and expands your range of motion. As a result, navigating the trail becomes much easier.
On the other hand, stretching after a walk reduces muscle pain.
Since you’ve already been exercising, stretching will be a piece of cake for you, taking no more than a few minutes.
Do some quad stretches and shoulder rolls before the hike. After completing the hike, the ankle stretches feel amazing.
If you have any muscle or joint problems, check with your physical therapist and learn which stretches work for your body before continuing.
8. Get plenty of rest
Hiking is not a contest. You don’t have to leave anyone behind. It is important to take a break and let your muscles relax for a while.
The key to a good hike is to enjoy it. Go slow and immerse yourself in the greatness of nature.
Getting plenty of rest can increase the length of your walk. To avoid this, you can walk slowly and rest every hour instead of resting frequently (quality over quantity). Use a hydration bladder to eliminate water breaks.
Eat healthy snacks during breaks to replenish your body.
9. Share your plans
We often wake up to headlines about missing hikers and hikers. That doesn’t mean you have to fear going out to explore the forest.
Let your close friends and family know about your plans. Make your schedule clear to them so they know when to check on you in case of unforeseen delays. Introduce some of your club members to your family.
I know that hiking plans keep changing due to reasons like a group member or a group member’s illness. So, keep your loved ones informed.
A satellite messaging device will help you communicate with someone in an emergency.
10. Avoid the sun
Summer is not a great time to explore the world. Regardless of trail location, you are prone to heat stroke, sunburn, heat cramps, well the list is too long.
But what can you do if you are free only in summer?
Hikers face this problem by leaving early in the morning or at noon. They also apply sunscreen, wear a hat and sunglasses.
Some experienced hikers suggest walking with a wet towel (preferably white) wrapped around your neck to protect yourself from heat absorption.
As Finis Mitchell, an American mountaineer and forester, put it, “We don’t stop walking because we get old, we get old because we stop walking.”
Where are you headed now?
Res Marty currently lives in Switzerland. He loves traveling, hiking, and camping. He has tons of stories about his adventures and also shares honest reviews of hiking and camping equipment on his website. His favorite countries include Hawaii, Canada, Peru, Portugal, and many more.