Walking is an activity that allows you to keep fit without having to worry about investing in huge amounts of equipment. That said, once you reach a certain level, you’ll want to invest in the right gear in order to give yourself the best chance of progression. Let’s take a look at some of the most important and useful items in a would-be hiker’s locker.
One of the most important items for anyone looking to walk further than a few miles a week is a decent pair of walking boots. These will support your ankles, and help to prevent blisters and painful injuries. Walking boots are available in a variety of shapes and sizes – some are designed for occasional woodland walkers, some cater to seasoned mountaineers. If you’re planning on going on a long hike as part of a charity challenge abroad, then you might want to invest accordingly. Be sure to get walking boots that fit snugly while you’re wearing thick walking socks.
When you first set out on a walk longer than a few miles, it can be difficult to know exactly what to wear. It might seem too cold to go out in just a t shirt, and so you elect for a jumper. But before you know it, you’re covered in sweat, and you’re carrying that jumper. Then a gust of freezing wind hits you.
In order to avoid these problems, it’s worth investing in breathable clothes that will exclude wind while allowing your skin to breathe. These can be purchased relatively inexpensively – and will allow you to walk in comfort.
If you’ve reached a certain age, you might find that walking large distances causes pain in the joints of your leg – especially your knees. But even if you’re still in your twenties, you might want to ensure that the strain of walking is spread across your entire body. For those embarking on particularly gruelling treks, this advice holds especially true.
In order to do this, you’ll need a pair of walking sticks. This work in much the same way as ski poles – plant them into the ground as you go, and you’ll allow your elbows and shoulders to absorb the impacts which might otherwise be absorbed solely by your knees. Over the course of thousands of miles and many decades, those impacts add up!
Though it’s a crude measure of one’s walking progress, counting the number of steps is also a very useful one. You might not be able to use it to compare your walking ability to other people with different length lengths, but you can certainly use it to compare with yourself from last week or the week before.
In order to count your steps, you’ll find there are plenty of smartphone applications which are very handy. Alternatively, you might consider a dedicated device – they’re tiny and lightweight and strap to your waist.
If you’ve yet to spend much time traversing the wilderness, then you might imagine that we live in an age where paper maps are obsolete. After all, we’ve been looking at GPS maps on our mobile phones for almost a decade now.
But go for a long walk in the countryside, and this idea rapidly reveals itself as illusory. If you want detailed, precise information by which to navigate, wherever you are in the world, then be sure to pick up an OS map before you embark on your walk. If you’re going on a team charity event, then your teammates won’t thank you if you get them lost!
One of the best things about walking is that it’ll improve your fitness over time – while being low-impact enough that you won’t be crippled by the effort. While there are many different ways of measuring your fitness, your heart rate while under strain and at rest are among the most useful. A lower heart rate indicates that your heart is in better health, requiring less effort to circulate blood around your body.
While some people naturally have higher heart rates than others, any reduction in heart rate over time should be welcomed. You can track your progress over time using a wrist-mounted heart rate monitor. These are available from several different manufacturers, and will monitor changes in your heart rate throughout the day. This will allow you to see precisely how quickly you’re recovering from exertion, and just how far your heart is being pushed each time.