Simple Ways to Improve Hiking Endurance Overnight

August 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Muscular Endurance

Article by Terry Daniels

Simple Ways to Improve Hiking Endurance Overnight – Outdoors

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The casual hiker who may happen upon this article may be wondering if it is even possible to improve one’s hiking endurance. To that person I say, “yes, it is”.

I expect all others reading this article have experienced muscular and respiratory failure while scaling an intense mountain.

Any hiker will have a much greater chance of improving his or her endurance if they understand a few simple concepts concerning the cause of most hiker fatigue. It helps to think of the body as a whole instead of a number of different systems.

Many hikers mistakenly think that because they are very fit muscularly, or because their cardio/respiratory systems are in great condition, that they are in great a position to undertake whatever mountaineering experience they choose. This is grossly inaccuarate, however, since an advanced level hiking/mountaineering experience will demand that the cardio, respiratory, and muscular aspects of fitness all be in balance throughout the day.

Failure in one system can often cause failure in another. This situation is well applied to a person who has a fair level of respiratory fitness, but a low level of muscular endurance in the large leg muscles.

This person will begin the day ahead of the pack–wondering why everyone else is taking their time–only to fall behind later in the day when muscle fatigue sets in. Unfortunately, both muscle fatigue and respiratory overload will occur prematurely for this individual since muscular fatigue will trick the body into thinking the muscles simply need more oxygen–the respiratory system will be forced into trying to compensate for muscular fatigue.

As the respiratory system and leg muscles are overloaded, excess moisture will be lost through breathing and sweating, leading to premature dehydration. Energy will also be expended at a faster rate since the body is now working overtime to maintain activity levels and a steady core temperature.

It is also important to remember that the proper use of outdoor knowledge can often be one of the greatest determining factors in a person’s overall endurance.

For example, the body will fatigue much faster if it is subject to frequent and drastic temperature change. The savvy outdoorsman will know this can be avoided by avoiding excessive sweating and cool-down periods.

Extreme body temperatures can be avoided by wearing moisture-wicking clothing that provides adequate ventilation, and by layering clothing in such a way that clothing can easily be removed or added in the objective of maintaining constant body temperature–even and especially during resting periods (this includes avoiding sitting on snow or anything else that would cause conductive cooling of the body).

Also note that eating a large meal while hiking will take blood away from other important systems in the body while excess heat/blood is used to digest a meal. Small meals/snacks are much more conducive to periods of prolonged physical activity.

While nothing can replace a good overall fitness level, any hiker may fail to complete a strenuous climb if he or she is unaware of techniques that prolong respiratory and muscular endurance. Two of these popular techniques are known as “pressure breathing” and taking a “rest step”.

Since most people are habituated to taking small, short breaths, carbon dioxide tends to pool in the bottom of the lungs–especially as elevation is gained and oxygen becomes thinner. As mentioned above, the systems of the body are interconnected, and this problem, gone uncorrected, will cause premature muscle fatigue and other symptoms of altitude sickness such as coughing and headache.

This problem can be avoided by periodically breathing out in a forceful manner in such a way that the lungs are completely deflated. It is not necessary to inhale in the same manner since the lungs will naturally re-inflate.

In the same way that most people take short breaths while breathing, most people do not lock their knees while walking/hiking. Taking a rest step simply involves locking the knee of the resting leg while taking a step with the other leg (this should look steady and not robotic).

Using this technique will allow the leg muscles of the resting leg to quickly, but frequently, relax during the rest step–this actually adds up to be about half the time. The math is pretty easy unless you every step with two legs at once.

Hopefully it is clear that proper conditioning and a little outdoor knowledge can go a long way in prolonging hiking endurance.

About the Author

Terry Daniels is an avid outdoorsman who loves hiking, exercising, and increasing his endurance with strength training equipment. He’s been a hiking tour guide for the past 9 years.

Terry Danielsterrydaniels09@gmail.comhttp://www.freemotionfitness.com

Use and distribution of this article is subject to our Publisher Guidelines
whereby the original author’s information and copyright must be included.

Terry Daniels



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Terry Daniels is an avid outdoorsman who loves hiking, exercising, and increasing his endurance with strength training equipment. He’s been a hiking tour guide for the past 9 years.

Terry Danielsterrydaniels09@gmail.comhttp://www.freemotionfitness.com












Use and distribution of this article is subject to our Publisher Guidelines
whereby the original author’s information and copyright must be included.

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