Hiking, cycling, hunting and rafting are great forms of exercise on their own. Over time, these activities can build up your endurance levels, increase strength in your lower and upper limbs and build up core strength. Getting outdoors is also good for the mind, reducing stress levels and anxiety, while getting you away from heavily polluted areas of the city. However, you do need a certain level of conditioning to be fit enough for these strenuous activities. So, the next time you’re prepping for the great outdoors, follow these exercises to help you preprare
Condition Your Leg Muscles
Your leg muscles will power many of your outdoor hobbies, which means they need to be ready the task. The best exercises for building lower leg strength include variations of squats, lunges, calf raises and deadlifts; you can do these exercises with or without weights. However, if you prefer your exercise to be more aerobic based, cycling, kick boxing, power walking and jogging are all effective means of conditioning the lower limbs and building endurance.
Building Upper Body Strength
Hiking, cycling, rowing, rafting and other outdoor activities will demand a lot from the upper body too. And whether you’re on dry land or out on the water, you’ll find yourself relying on upper limb strength more than you might think. Fortunately, it’s easy to condition these muscles with simple exercises like tricep dips and extensions, bicep curls, shoulder raises and chest flies, However, take care with these moves if you have any kind of shoulder problem.
Developing Core Strength
When fitness experts talk about the core, they’re referring to the midsection. Traditional crunches and back extensions are both excellent ways of conditioning these muscles. However, Pilates and Ashtanga yoga are also highly effective and offer considerable benefits, such as stress reduction and improved posture. Consider taking some classes and learning the ‘core’ moves ahead of your next outdoors trip.
Increase Your Endurance
Any exercise that improves your endurance will be of benefit when you get outside. This could take the form of regular visits to the gym and using a rowing machine, an exercise bike or a treadmill. Alternatively, you might want to hit the streets running, or take up swimming. Whichever aerobic exercise you choose to do, make sure that you get into it gradually and build your fitness levels as you go.
Don’t Forget Stretching
Exercise enthusiasts often skip the stretching part of their fitness routine, thinking it isn’t necessary. And while there are some mixed opinions on how valuable stretching is, it’s widely believed that short, tight muscles are more prone to injury. For this reason, most fitness experts advise that you stretch prior to exercise to reduce the risk of straining a muscle.
As a lover of the great outdoors, the exercises you’ll find most beneficial are calf, quadricep, and hamstring stretches for your lower body. For the upper body, concentrate on bicep, tricep, shoulder and back stretches. Incorporate some gentle neck stretches, too.
Prior To Starting Out
Whatever your choice of activity, ensure your limbs are warm and you’re ready for more intensive exercise. And although some don't feel this is necessary, preparing your body for the challenge ahead is widely regarded as the most sensible approach to any activity. With hiking and cycling you can do this by starting off at a slower rate and gradually increasing your pace as your body warms up.
To get the best out of your outdoor pursuits, you should have at least some level of fitness and conditioning. By focusing on conditioning, endurance, core and stretching exercises, you’ll have a balanced exercise regime that should ensure you’re up to the rigours of intensive activity. Whichever exercises you decide to concentrate on, always get expert advice if you’re concerned over any aspect of your health. And dress always appropriately so you remain comfortable when your body temperature starts to climb.
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