Monday, April 15, 2013

Five Fitness Tips for an Effortless Hiking Tour




I am sitting at my desk feeling a bit uninspired. The cursor just winks at me, waiting for me to put the words on the page. I take to the trail. Fresh air and endorphins always do the trick. I lace up my runners and set out on the dirt path heading towards the sky. I let my mind wander and almost immediately begin to wonder why we as human beings must seek out companies like Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures for the simple pleasure of hiking.

Perhaps the invention of the computer, or the desk or the chair, is the reason why the need for adventure travel has grown so exponentially over the years. Whatever the reason, we can now scientifically prove that hiking, or movement of any kind, is really good for your heart, mind, body and spirit. As a nutrition, health, fitness and travel guru for Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures, the major questions I receive when booking hikers revolve around the effort and fitness necessary to complete the itineraries we offer.

Admittedly, the “effort” rating that Ryder Walker gives for each one of our treks can be hard to gauge, as each person is physically different in fitness and objective. I am here to offer simple tips to ensure that no matter what your abilities you are prepared to put one foot in front of the other effortlessly, leaving more energy for photos ops and fun.

1. Interval Training (pre trek)

1-2 times per week.
Do interval training 1-2 times per week at a pace you can only maintain for less than an hour. Example; hike fast, even run, for 1 minute then walk for 1 minute, breathing hard at end of each interval.

Benefit: Strong heart, strong muscles.
Intervals train your heart to pump strongly and allow your muscles to store more energy to sustain longer distances.

2. Go The Distance

1 day per week.
Hit the trail or area you love in the shoes you intend to wear on the trek. Hike 2/3 the distance of your longest day with Ryder Walker. Example; if 10 miles is the longest day, then hike 7.5 miles.

Benefit: Strong body, strong mind.
Training your mind and body will help prepare you for the trek. Not to mention, wearing the same shoes for the trek will alleviate the need to worry about the discomfort a blister will surely cause.

3. Hydrate 

Every 10-15 minutes. 
Keep thirst at bay by hydrating at the time of thirst. Taking small sips every 10-15 minutes or so will help keep your thirst quenched. A Camelback and the Alps are the two easiest ways to stay hydrated as the trailside fresh water springs are nearly always there when you need them. Electrolyte mixes with sodium and other minerals are also good to have especially if hot. Supplementing hydration with mixes like my favorite from Skratch Labs gets absorbed more quickly than water itself. Be careful of sports drinks with too much sugar since, in my opinion, the calories from sugar taste better in a delicious European pastry.

Benefit: Happy muscles, more energy.
Hydration prevents muscle cramps and fatigue helping to maintain homeostasis (the body’s perfect chemical composition). Not to mention, it may be necessary after indulging in each evening’s food and drink.

4. Eat

Lots of complex carbs, fruits, veggies and protein. 
Although the best energy for long distance sport is best replenished in the form of carbohydrates, make sure that you are not just using the delicious pastries offered as fuel (easier said than done, I know!). Make sure to supplement with fruits and vegetables and even protein to sustain fullness. If your goal is to indulge on vacation, then this advice may go in one ear and out the other, but for those of you who are interested in coming home from vacation a more fit version of yourself, then limit refined sugar and carb intake and you will be on your way.

Benefit: Sustained energy, increased fat burning potential.
The obvious result will be the ability to sustain energy throughout every mile of the trek and avoiding a potential sugar crash on the trail. Most Ryder Walker hikes pass by a local market that offers more choices for packing good calories for the trail. *It is worth noting that what you eat for breakfast and dinner will have an impact on energy throughout the trek as well.

5. Sleep

Get plenty of it. 
Catching shut eye on vacation can be hard for many reasons, but taking note of the controllable variables that inhibit sleep can make a world of difference. Some things to avoid if you have trouble sleeping are, afternoon caffeine, too much alcohol and/or overeating at dinner, sugar intake, and bright lights/electronics before bed.

Benefit: More alert, more vivid memories.
Getting enough sleep can sometimes be more important than the preparations for the hike itself. Getting enough sleep prior to the trek is also important to having an even more wonderful time hiking with Ryder Walker.


Nicole Nugent is a travel consultant for Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures. She has a degree in Integrative Physiology from University of Colorado, Boulder and also works as wellness chef and NASM certified personal trainer. You can follow her health and nutrition blog at huntgathernourish.blogspot.com





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