The days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter, and the buds are beginning to bloom. Getting outside for a walk or a hike should be high on your to-do list! Getting outside for regular walks can help you to reduce your risk of heart disease, lower your blood pressure, improve your mood and mental health, and can be a great time to get out with friends or enjoy some quiet time yourself.
When the sun is shining, I enjoy getting outside with my rescue dog Smokey. To make the most out of your walk or hike and to prepare your body, there are some important exercises to incorporate to feel your best.
A good warm up is an essential part of your workout, even when it’s a walk or a hike outside. Warming up gives your body a chance to gradually increase body temperature, get your cardiovascular system ready for exercise including your heart and lungs, and helps to warm up your muscles and joints, which sets you up to prevent injury.
When performing warm up movements, it is best to use dynamic movements versus static movements. Dynamic movements such as marches, side steps, kickbacks, arm circles, and trunk rotation are great movements to bring your heart rate up and start warming up your muscles and joints in a safer way than static stretches such as leaning over for your hamstrings or leaning in for your calves.
Your muscles and joints aren’t ready for static stretching yet. Leave the static stretches for after your walk. Check out this video for some dynamic movements to perform before your next walk or hike to prepare your body for a great walk:
After your walk or hike, it can be tempting to jump back in the car or get on with your day right away. Take a few minutes to cool down and stretch your muscles. Your joints and muscles will feel so much better if you take this time. It also allows your cardiovascular system to cool down slowly, keeping you healthy.
Now is the time when static stretches are good for your joints and muscles as they are warmer from your walk or hike, such as hamstring stretches, calf stretches, and quad stretches. Hold your stretches without bouncing for 3 to 5 deep breaths for 2 to 3 rounds per side.
Listen to your body and give your muscles a gentle to medium stretch, never stretch too deeply. Focusing on your deep breaths instead of time gives your body the oxygen it needs to settle down, slows your heart rate, and gives your muscles the oxygen they need. Check out this video for a few static stretches to perform after your next walk or hike to help your body feel great:
So many of my fitness coaching clients want to be able to walk, hike, and enjoy travel and adventure for years to come. As we age, we start to lose muscle which can cause aches in joints and a lack of endurance and strength if we aren’t actively strength training our muscles.
Keeping your muscles strong to protect your joints, build endurance, build balance, and strength for your adventures is so important. Having strong muscles in your lower body, including your hips and your ankles, will help to improve your body to stay strong for walks, hikes, and travel and your everyday activities.
I love to smile when a coaching client of mine tells me not only are they ready for their next big adventure, but they are now putting their pants on standing on one leg. Strength training exercises should be performed three times per week with 8 to 15 reps of each exercise and 2 to 4 sets.
Check out this video for some strengthening exercises to keep your lower body strong for your walks, hikes, and adventures:
Adding in these warm-up, cool down, and strengthening exercises will make a huge difference in your endurance, strength, balance, and mobility to help you enjoy your walks and hikes even more!
Download my Free Thrive after 55 Quick Start Exercise Guide for a full guide on the best exercises after 55.
Are you going outside for walks and hikes now that the weather is turning warmer? Do you warm up before a walk/hike and do you cool down afterward? Have you noticed a difference when you warm up compared to when you don’t?
Tags Fitness Over 60