Many of our clients, especially those who live in the Hills love to go for hikes and walks to keep fit and enjoy the beautiful scenery. One of the challenges, however, is being fit enough to tackle big inclines without being out of breath at the top of the hill. Part of this is due to aerobic fitness. Because exercise is specific, the best way to improve this aspect of fitness is to keep practising hill walking on a regular basis.
The other way to improve your hiking and walking experience is to strengthen your leg muscles. The most important muscles used are the quadriceps, gluteals, calves and core. Here are some simple exercises you can do at home to strengthen these muscle groups:
- Sit to stand: with arms in genie position, lean forward from a sitting position and stand up.
- Slowly lower your bottom down with no plonking.
- Progress to lower seats and then remove seat and do unassisted squats.
- Can stay down in squat position and pulse for 10 counts
- Stretch: Standing, taking heel to bottom. Hold 30 secs.
- Lunge type move where front leg is bent and back leg straight.
- Bend back knee towards ground, but keep body weight over front foot, pressing heel firmly into ground.
- Progress to lifting back leg off ground and do little back leg lifts and pulses.
- Make further progress by keeping back leg lifted and lean torso forward and lift chest back up.
- Stretch: Lying on back, cross one ankle over opposite knee. Thread hands through to pull knee into chest. Hold 30 secs.
- Heel lifts over back of step.
- Standing on step with heels off the edge.
- Gradually lift heels up towards ceiling and slowly lower down towards the floor.
- Control is the focus of the movement, especially when lowering back down.
- Can do slow ones and quick pulses.
- Stretch: Stand facing wall. Step one leg back, pressing heel into ground and lean forward.
- Simple plank preparation.
- Start on all fours and stretch on leg out at a time, tucking toes under, coming into a plank.
- Focus on maintaining “rib to pelvis” connection, engaging abdominals firmly, to protect the lower back.
- Once out in plank position, can progress to single and double knee bends towards the floor. Maintain strong core.
- Stretch: Cobras and Child pose.
By doing these four exercises 3-4 times per week you will start to notice a difference in your muscle endurance when walking. Don’t forget to stretch!