The Health-Conscious Camper: Improve Your Hiking Workout

The best part about camping is that it affords so many opportunities to stay active. While a stroll through the woods is relaxing, you can take it up a notch to create a hiking workout you'll surely miss when you go home.

More: How to Use Hiking to Improve Your Fitness

Try Something New

Hiking is like any other workout; if you do it enough, your body gets used to the activity providing you with less benefits. So, instead of doing the same trek everyday of your camping trip, explore as many trails as you can find. Not only will you get a better workout, but this gives you a chance to see more of the region you're camping in.

  • Climbing: Hiking along the trail is not only recommended, but also enforced by local rangers. However, don't miss an opportunity to climb a tree or rock on or close to the trail. You'll utilize a variety of muscles to climb, while engaging your core to stay balanced on a branch, for example.
  • Find an intermediate level hike: Instead of going on the closest hike, ask about other options. Most campgrounds are located in trail-rich areas, making it easy for you to branch out from the same old hiking routine. Remember to be honest about your hiking skills, to avoid taking on a hike you can't quite handle.
More: The Many Benefits of Hiking

Incorporate Interval Training

Hiking at a slow and steady pace is the best way to take in new scenery, but it's not the ideal fitness routine. By incorporating interval training, you can enjoy the wilderness around you, while getting a better hiking workout.

Start with a 5-minute warm-up walk, and then transition into a walk-jog-sprint routine. You can do this in timed intervals, or based on your geography. See a hill up ahead? Jog to the hill, sprint up it, and then walk.

It's important to remember that an intense hiking workout can present dangers. Watch for snakes, sticks and roots on the trail that can be harmful. Keep your eyes ahead at all time, especially while jogging or sprinting.

More: How to Prepare for a Strenuous Hike

Boost Your Backpack

Finally, as with any workout, you need to be prepared for your workout; in this case, it's as simple as packing smarter. Be sure your backpack has:

  • Weather-related gear: Though you should always check the weather before heading out on a hike, you never know what will happen. Pack rain gear just in case. Don't forget sunscreen and bug spray, as well. You don't want anything to stop you from finishing your workout.
  • Hydration: A good rule of thumb is to bring more water than you think you'll need. When hiking for more than an hour, always have at least 4 to 6 liters.
  • Stay fueled: If you're going on a short hike, less than an hour, water should be sufficient, but it never hurts to have food on hand just in case. Definitely take snacks or lunch for longer treks to avoid fatigue, which will negatively affect your hiking workout.

Camping is an opportunity to enjoy an active weekend. But, not all activities are created equal, and chances are that your standard hike doesn't quite make for a rigorous workout. Enjoy nature and have a better hiking workout with one or all of these three simple tips.

More: 5 Tips for Choosing Hiking Boots

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About the Author

Jessica Sanders

Jessica Sanders is the former online editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors. Follow her on Google+

Jessica Sanders is the former online editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors. Follow her on Google+

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