Friday, December 2, 2016

Take A Hike

Winter is the perfect time to hike in Southern California. The weather is cooler, the sky is clearer and the snakes are hiding. It doesn't take a lot to get started. You really only need two items: proper footwear and a water pack. No matter how challenging or easy your trail, every hike has it's perks.

Even a moderate one-hour hike can burn around 400 calories, while sculpting your core and lower body. As the elevation goes up, so do the benefits. Our local hikes here in Burbank all involve climbing a big hill and then coming back down, a combo that's a great workout for your legs. Going up is like doing lunges over and over, which is great for your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. But traveling downhill is what really sculpts your legs. To go downhill, your glutes and quads need to do a lot of slow and controlled work to stabilize your knees and hips so you don't fall. These types of contractions (eccentric) benefit muscle fibers the most because you're resisting the force of gravity against the weight of your body. This means that while you probably won't get short of breath on the descent, your muscles won't get a second to slack.

Research shows that experiences like gazing from atop a mountain or watching a burbling stream benefit your state of mind. People who spent 50 minutes walking through nature reported less anxiety and more happiness than people who walked near traffic. Exercising outdoors offers a wonderful combination of less stress and more happiness.

Hiking with others and working toward a unified goal - like making your way along an unfamiliar trail - strengthens relationships and builds bonds. Hiking usually involves solving little problems together, like "Which way to we turn?" Appreciating beauty in nature and sharing it with fellow hikers increases the communal mood-booster.

Whether you're a runner or love your Spinning class, scheduling some hikes can improve your fitness level in ways that up your running and cycling game. Cyclists tend to have strong quads but underdeveloped hamstrings and runners tend to have weak hamstrings and glutes. Hiking helps strengthen these muscles to eliminate those types of imbalances. A single hike won't have much of an effect. Consistency is the key.

Start a hike habit this winter!
Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

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