Hiking through uneven terrains, over tree roots, around rocks, streams and fallen tree trunks result into a holistic workout session. Exercises such as hiking can help one achieve peak physical conditioning, so is hiking aerobic or anaerobic activity?
Hiking is a blend of aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic (muscle building) built into one single activity. It pushes your heart rate and respiration at times, for example, the PUDS. While hiking you are building your leg muscles greatly while melting off body fat to reach peak physical conditioning.
Hiking is mainly an aerobic exercise as it boosts the heart and respiration rate through long endurance exercise. It also incorporates plenty of anaerobic exercise which helps to strengthen lower body muscles.
There is a lot more to know about hiking and how it helps you reach your maximum fitness potential. Let’s find out how hiking can become a means to peak physical conditioning.
Hiking can be both an aerobic and anaerobic activity. In most cases, it is an aerobic activity but before I explain the reason behind that, let’s look into what aerobic and anaerobic activities are.
Aerobic The term “aerobic’ refers to energy produced with the help of oxygen. Hence, oxygen is essential to produce energy for aerobic activities.
Aerobic activities build up the endurance level of your lungs, heart and muscles. Thus, endurance and cardiovascular exercises that increase the breathing and heart-rate of a person falls into this category.
Brisk walking, cycling and swimming are examples of aerobic activities that many people already do frequently.
The term “anaerobic” refers to energy produced without the presence of oxygen. Anaerobic activities do not require increased amounts of oxygen absorption and transportation.
Instead, these exercises use up the stored energy by breaking down the glucose in your body.
Anaerobic activities are great for building muscle and burning fat. These involve highly intense but quick exercises.
Jumping, heavy weight lifting and sprinting are examples of anaerobic activities that many will do already.
Hiking for a few hours will increase your heart rate and keep it up during the whole time. When you take a hike you are utilizing all your limbs, especially if the trail is rugged and steep. Of course, it requires a lot of oxygen and thus it is an aerobic activity of high intensity.
If your hiking trail is steep and rugged enough your hike may involve anaerobic exercises too. Lunges, squats and other HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) exercises are all examples of anaerobic activities. Each step on a steep hiking trail is like a one-legged squat.
Hiking on a rugged terrain will strengthen your core and leg muscles. Since anaerobic exercise helps to build muscles, you could say it is incorporated in a complete hiking trip.
Since hikes incorporate a full-body workout and prior training, it is an excellent form of exercise to achieve physical conditioning.
If you hike regularly while maintaining a routine workout and diet, your overall physical condition will develop with time.
Usually, athletes reach peak physical conditioning through years of training and maintaining a proper diet. But achieving peak physical conditioning is not impossible for regular people.
Peak physical conditioning is the maximum fitness potential of humans. Although most people cannot reach the peak physical conditioning athletes can, they can reach their maximum fitness potential.
Here is how anyone can reach their peak physical conditioning,
If you want to reach peak physical fitness through hiking, you need to be passionate enough about it to continue it for years. You need to set personal goals and train rigorously to improve at hiking with time.
Since you are outdoors in nature while hiking, you cannot help but focus on your surroundings and exercise. Hence, your mind is also being trained to focus better when you hike regularly.
Peak physical conditioning cannot be reached with brawn alone. You need to maximize both your physical and mental abilities to reach that state.
Hiking ensures the development of both physical and mental fitness which will also help you reach peak physical conditioning.
If you are a couch potato, you need to train before you plan a hiking trip. You cannot just decide to go on a sudden hiking trip without repercussions. Hiking requires balance and strength, without it you may injure yourself.
Whether you are planning on a simple hiking trip or one of the loftier ones, you need to train your muscles beforehand.
You need to build endurance, strengthen your core muscles, improve your balance and cardiovascular health before hiking.
Here are some general fitness tips that will help you shape up for hiking,
In case of a more intense hiking trip, such as mountaineering, you will need to train more. You will need to do cardio, endurance and strength exercises got over months before mountain hiking.
You can stick to a 6 months training program to prepare for any big hiking trip. During January and February, you should build up your lower muscle strength by doing cardio exercise.
During March and April, increase your speed while walking or sprinting. You should also increase the weights you are carrying while training. In the last phase of this regime, you should focus on maintaining your fitness.
Hiking is a dynamic exercise that makes use of both aerobic and anaerobic systems as a means to reach peak physical conditioning.
Regular hiking along with a rigorous training regime incorporating diverse exercises such as lunges, sprinting, squats etc. can help anyone reach their maximum fitness potential.