Preparation on the day of the hike

Roberta Arpan

In the August issue of the Splash, readers were given advice on how to get in shape for the fall hiking season. Assuming all interested readers have been exercising to increase their cardio capacity, build their core and leg strength and improve their balance, we are now ready to discuss what every hiker can do to prepare on the day of the hike.

Certified personal trainer Mei-Mei Ahlskog shares the following thoughts on pre-hiking readiness and post-hike recovery, “It’s important to get your muscles activated and move your joints with a pre-hike warm-up. This prepares your body for the demands you are about to place on it and helps prevent injuries. The best way to effectively warm up is to move large muscles for a minimum of five minutes. Examples of good exercises include side lunges, walking knee hugs, squats with calf raise and jumping jacks.”

Mei-Mei continues by stating, “Equally important, stretching immediately after hiking will help you recover faster and improve your flexibility, which allows your joints freedom of movement and increases your range of motion. It is essential after hiking to stretch your hamstrings, quads, calves, hips and gluts.”

Mei-Mei will demonstrate these exercises and stretches at a future Sun Lakes Hiking Club meeting. Watch the Splash for further information.

Being prepared on the day of the hike also means that your body has good fuel to meet the demands of sustained physical activity. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Carolyn Nasca has advice for your body’s nutritional needs when hiking. She suggests that you start out with a breakfast including complex carbohydrates, fat and proteins such as eggs, peanut butter on whole grain toast, or oatmeal mixed with dried fruits and nuts. Carolyn affirms that during the first 20 minutes of exercise you burn purely glucose, which is your available form of energy. For sustained activity you start burning fat, and if you don’t have enough overall calories you break down protein, which impairs muscle health.

It is important during exercise to maintain your blood sugar levels so be sure to pack food items that again will provide the necessary complex carbohydrates, fat and protein. Energy bars are popular with hikers but be sure to read the label and choose a bar in which the main ingredients are not sugars. Some hikers believe they get an extra boost of energy when ascending a steep incline by consuming gel chomps. Gel chomps are available at sports stores and come in a variety of flavors and shapes. Hydration is also essential and water intake should continue throughout the hike. Remember, if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Water additives containing electrolytes have proven to be beneficial.

The Sun Lakes Hiking Club will officially begin its new season in November. For more information visit the club’s website at or contact President Brian Hill at 612-875-1946 or [email protected].