There are many myths associated with hiking, perhaps the one most troubling to me is that you need to look like this to be a hiker:
And that’s simply not true.
Sure, being fit of course helps in terms of length and difficulty of hikes etc. But you don’t have to be like that. Most hikers are just normal people, not olympic athletes. They come in all shapes, sizes and ages.
Are you a couch potato? It’s okay, you can admit it. Why? Because you can still go hiking!
Your fitness level does not remove you from the ability to hike, it instead determines the lengths of your hikes, but that number is never zero. Hiking is an activity which scales to your health. It’s, at its heart, just walking. The difficulty comes in the uneven terrain and the changing of altitudes.
The thing to understand is that, short of sprinting, hiking is one of the most effective bipedal ways to burn calories, even if it is just a short mile or two, you’ll burn far more calories covering that distance on a hike than you will on a treadmill.
Why is that?
Consider your experience walking on a treadmill. It’s perfectly even, it’s a constant speed, there are no extra bumps, there are no odd foot placements, and unless you use the incline function, there’s no climbing. It’s mentally boring to you, why do you think gyms have discovered the joy of adding televisions to these machines? Well guess what, it’s physically boring to your body. Sure you can get a work out on a treadmill, no denying it, but your body is exceptionally good at adapting and without surprises the work your body does diminishes greatly.
Hiking though, well, hiking is filled with surprises. Ups and downs. Your feet don’t always fall flat. Theres an endless up and down, side to side, etc. Your leg is a complex machine built to keep you upright in some of the most difficult situations.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t use a treadmill, but I am saying that you shouldn’t use a treadmill exclusively – exercising outdoors is better for you, and of course, as this article points out: well within your capability.
So no matter your fitness level, you can begin hiking!