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50 CLUBS AND CLASSES — September 2012

Time to start getting fit for the hiking season

Karin Hansen, Publicity Hiking, no matter what the season, is a

physical activity and can be used as part of a healthy fi tness routine. Like all fi tness activities, proper training and conditioning are important in order to avoid injuries and illnesses. Whenever an individual is starting or changing their fi tness routines, they should consult with a medical practitioner before beginning. It is important to start out small and gradually increase your activity each week. A good rule of thumb is to never increase your time or your distance by more than 10 percent each week. When participating in a sport, experts

often recommend warming up at a slow or reduced speed to avoid injuring cold muscles. Begin by walking on fl at ground at a slow speed any incline

before tackling or major hill.

Warmi n g up can also

rocks and boulders that lie ahead. Many people make

the mistake of

thinking that they are ready to go out with the Sun Lakes Hiking Club hikers because they have been doing a lot of walking in Sun Lakes. Walking is, indeed, a great way to begin any fi tness program, but hiking has some additional requirements. If you wish to transition from walking to hiking there are some things you can begin doing. First is to work on endurance. Winter hikes with the Sun Lakes Hiking Club are usually six to 10 miles in length. Gradually build up your

are comfortable with

time and distance so that you the length of


involve specific exercises fo r musc le s and joints. By starting with a few of these you reduce the muscle st i f fn es s and aches af te r w ar d s . Ankle and foot rotations, body bends and shoulder shrugs are good ways to loosen up joints that will be used for hiking. A few double-leg squats or single-leg lunges also help to get the hip muscles ready for the


hike. Another factor is the incline. Most walkers are used to walking on fl at ground. Mountains in Arizona are not usually fl at so hikers are going up and down hills on a regular basis. Adding hills to your walking routine is a great way to start getting ready for hiking. Hiking uphill in the mountain puts more demand on your heart and lungs so build up your cardiovascular conditioning with some brisk walking, jogging, biking or other cardio routines. Hiking downhill puts more demand on your legs and your knee joints. Keeping the leg muscles strong helps to prevent injuries and strain to the knees. You can improve leg strength and f l e x i b ili t y by doing weig ht training at a gy m or on yo u r ow n. Ma n y boo k s , magazines an d examples


and illustrations of good strength training exercises.

It is always suggested that you

work with a professional for guidance if you are new to this type of activity. Another important difference between walking and hiking has

to do with the terrain. Most

walkers are used to walking on smooth, concrete sidewalks or asphalt paths and streets. Mountain hiking is done on uneven trails made up of dirt, gravel, rocks or even boulders. Hikers will notice a strain on their ankles, knees and hips as they walk on uneven surfaces. You can prepare for this kind of hiking by practicing balance work for your feet and legs. Standing on one leg on a foam pad, a wobble board, a BOSU, or even a stack of towels or a chair cushion is an exercise that will help your ankles get stronger and improve your balance. The fi nal conditioning element for

hiking is cooling down and stretching at the end of the hike. Neglecting a proper cool down and stretch can lead to muscle cramps and fatigue later. Stretching the muscles of the legs can be done with toe touches and lunges. Body bends and shoulder rolls help to reduce the strain that the upper body has endured while carrying a backpack. A few extra moments of work before ending the fi tness hike can yield big rewards by preventing aches and pains the next day. The Sun Lakes Hiking Club continues

to meet each Monday morning during the summer months for informal hikes. Anyone who is interested in a hike should contact Mike Kenny at 480-802-5886 for information and to sign up. Departure is at 6:30 a.m. and most hikes are fairly short and nearby so the return to Cottonwood is well before the hottest part of the day. Remember to bring plenty of water, wear a hat and sunscreen and wear sturdy hiking shoes. Questions or comments arising during

the months of May through September can be directed to Al Metz at 313-717-7170. Be sure to check the Club’s website: http:// for pictures, history, recommended hiking equipment and current information about the Club. 


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