I was going to post a review of 4-Hour Body this week. Unfortunately, I’m still reading it. And may very well be reading it for the rest of the summer. In the interim, as I work through the epic fitness bible (and count toting it around town as my daily workout), here are some hiking tips.
Obviously, you know that hiking is a workout — but do you know just how much?
I didn’t. Yet, after four hikes in three days, I now know convinced: Hiking is going to be an ingenious way to cross paths with my swimsuit in July. Following are some fitness benefits of hiking which I gleaned from trial (and mostly error) during a weekend in Moab, Utah.
Want to get bikini ready? Gyms be damned — hiking is where the workout’s at.
Reason #1 to Hike: It works all your muscles.
Leaping over streams, traversing sand, climbing rocks, breaking awkward falls, trekking downhill, uphill (and downhill and uphill again). Hiking terrain will force your body to work muscle groups large and small. Stray from paved or flat trails and you’ll get a serious interval workout too.
And to make the most of this total-body activity, you’ll want to dress appropriately. I slid down enough mountains to officially recommend comfortable, flexible clothing and shoes with decent traction. Truth be told, I find Vibram Five Fingers dorky (at best), but I coveted many a pair over the weekend for their grip and nimbleness as compared with my trainers.
Reason #2 to Hike: You’re more likely to leave your comfort zone.
Must. Get. To. Waterfall.
Hiking is a great way to force yourself to go a little further than planned. Sure you might be tired at the 5-mile mark, but you’ve come this far. Can you really turn back before you reach the trail destination? And once there, well, now you have no choice but to go all the way back.
There’s also something about being in nature that seems to channel a primitive survival instinct. It seems to trigger an ability to handle rough n’ tumble activities we might not do, say, in an air conditioned room with iPod and coffee-flavored protein smoothie at arm’s length.
Reason #3 to Hike: The scenery serves as a distraction.
Sure, you need to face the pain and conquer it… or whatever. But according to marathon psychologist Jeff Brown, there’s nothing wrong with wielding distraction to get through a tough workout. (He says athletes do it.)
Well, what better distraction than nature, full of new and ever-changing stimuli, to get through a grueling workout?
So stop watching Judge Judy — and the clock. Hit the trails!
Got hiking tips? I need them. 🙂