Sensible Hiking – A Practical Guide for the Rookie Adventurer over 50

Getting into nature is a gateway to many rewards: increasingly better health, becoming a more interesting person and understanding what makes you happy. When preparing to trek into nature, sensibility is the watchword.

Until you understand what kind of hiker you are and what kind of hike suits you, start with a few basic pieces of equipment, such as foot gear, a hip pack, hiking poles and a good broad-brimmed hat suitable for an easy day hike. Then add gear as you work up to the hiking that suits you.

Hitting the trail is more than being properly outfitted. It’s knowing your capabilities. Walking even the easiest path can be challenging, so it’s important to focus holistically; your body, mind and spirit. This optimizes your experience and puts you on the path to a lifetime of healthier living.

Conditioning your body is essential, as it prepares you for the demands of hiking and helps prevent injuries. It’s a combination of factors, the first of which is physical.

You should ease into exercise because there is a difference between the 20 something and a 60 something workout. If you can join a gym staffed with experienced conditioning coaches, it’s a good investment.

Work up to a variety of age-appropriate exercises that focus on stability and flexibility (yoga), mobility (core), and strength and endurance (CrossFit, swimming, spinning). The goal is to develop a varied fitness routine five times per week. Know the difference between activity and exercise.

Conditioning also involves nutrition. Education and a change in eating habits will go a long way to ensuring your trek is fun, safe and well-fueled.

Learn the proper amounts and types of carbs, proteins and fats most conducive to hiking and to your health. Learn to shop around the edges of the grocery store for what grows in the earth, not necessarily what walks on it. Be resolute and disciplined for at least six months. You will find that the body craves what is good for it.

The third element is mental conditioning. There’s more to hiking than putting one foot in front of the other. Work on The Art of The Walk to practice mindfulness which is a way to understand what is meaningful to you. Appreciate the gifts of the trail – nature, people and what you become.

You will find that hiking can change your outlook on life, how you choose to live it, how you make friends and share experiences with others. If you consider that we will generally enjoy longer lives than ever before, we will have more time to enjoy healthy pursuits – and make a difference.

Hiking is really preparing for vital and vigorous longevity. For the novice hiker, it’s a step in the right direction to enjoying a more fulfilling life further enriched by being tuned into the body, mind and spirit of it all.

Your Honest Backpacker
James Klopovic

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