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Getting fit for adventure

By Jo Cordell-Cooper*

OVER the years I’ve worked with a variety of people to help them get fit for hiking adventures.

Sometimes these are people just starting out, but often this is for longer adventures, both long day and multi-day adventures.

This approach always starts with these questions:

– how fit are you now,

– how challenging the hike is that you want to do,

– what will you commit to doing that you will stick to (fitness wise), and what are you doing already.

There are many ways to prepare for hiking but I’m always surprised at what some people think might be suitable preparation.

It is with tongue in cheek I share these activities that will not get you fit for hiking.

Shopping – eight hours of shopping is not the same as eight hours of hiking through the bush.

When hiking you’ll be wearing different shoes, on un-even surfaces, up and down hills, and you’ll carry your load on your back.

Hiking is nothing like shopping, although I do admire your endurance if you can shop for eight hours.

Pilates and yoga – while there are many benefits to both pilates and yoga, both of these activities on their own will not prepare you for getting up a hill.

I do recommend that as part of a more holistic fitness approach that you do balance, stability and core work though.

Long hours on your feet – think waitresses and nurses who literally are on their feet all day (or night).

Both these professions can have you walking 20,000 steps in a night, but it will not help you hike in the wilderness for all the reasons that shopping does not count.

Being hiking fit many years ago – just because you hiked a lot several years ago does not mean you have kept that fitness.

I’ve met many a middle aged hiker (sore and injured) that used to walk in their 20s without much preparation at all.

However, if you are older, act a bit more wisely – if you haven’t trained in the last six months and you are taking on something more than a few hours then I’d say you’ll definitely benefit from some shorter walks on urban tracks.

Walking your elderly dog around the streets – instead leave the dog at home for hiking fitness sessions, find some steep hills and get your heart rate up.

Think about the end goal and aim to mimic your training to suit.

You need bush tracks, un-even surfaces, and hills to scale both up and down.

Progressively do longer walks and aim to get your heart rate up, but still be able to talk.

For more information and to download free hiking fitness resources, visit jocc.com.au/hiking.

*Jo Cordell-Cooper operates the award-winning business Jo CC Holistic PT, offers personal training, stress management strategies, preparation for hiking workouts, and adventure travel to multi-day hikes, locally and overseas. You can follow on Facebook at Holistic Personal Training for more healthy lifestyle tips and tricks.