Image: Adam Bautz
“Am I fit enough to do this adventure trip?”
Fitness level is one of the biggest concerns of 50+ adventurers. And it’s totally understandable considering the changes the body goes through as we age.
How the Body Changes as We Age
Changes in the Weight
Our body needs less energy as we used to when we’re in our 20s or 30s. This is why mindless eating and the lack of physical activity can make the dreaded weight gain inevitable at this stage.
What you can do: Ditch processed food and focus on nutrient-dense food like vegetables, fruits, and lean meat.
Changes in Heart Function
The heart naturally slows down with age and the arteries could become stiffer, leading to high blood pressure and possible heart enlargement.
What you can do: Watch what you eat. Your diet can make a difference between having a healthy heart and being at risk for having a heart disease. Opt for foods low in saturated and trans fat, sodium, and added sugar.
Getting physical can help too. Aim to have at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week.
Changes in the Bones and Joints
Long-term use can lead to the wear and tear of the bones and joints. At this stage, bone and joint problems such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis can develop.
What you can do: For optimal bone health in your 50s, you need to focus on your intake of calcium, vitamin D, and exercise. If you are a female, the more you should be watchful of your diet and physical activity especially in your 50s. Women, in general, are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis. A well- balanced diet and regular physical activity can help in maintaining bone mass.
Tips for 50+ Adventurers
Hiking is a great way to explore the outdoors and work different muscles of your body including your heart. For 50+ adventurers like you, the following tips can help you gain the confidence for exploring the outdoors:
You probably know by now that your body responds differently to physically-challenging activities. Hence, it’s essential to prepare for a hike or any outdoor activity especially if you haven’t done it for quite a while.
Plan ahead and start working out regularly weeks or months from your booked trip. For a hiking trip, you can benefit a lot from doing HIIT or high-intensity interval training. It improves both aerobic and anaerobic fitness and prepares your body for the strength you’ll need on your hike.
2. Work on your leg strength
For an enjoyable experience during the hike, you need to work on your leg strength.
Hopping on your treadmill at a higher incline and doing squats and lunges are some of the ways you can improve your leg strength.
3. Don’t forget to strengthen your upper body
For longer hikes, you need to strengthen your upper body (think of your core and shoulders).
Strengthening your upper body won’t just help you carry your things with more ease but it can also help in improving your flexibility and balance, which are vital in most physically demanding activities.
Doing crutches, bridge, and planks are great for building a strong core.
4. Do some practice hikes
Practice hikes are great for finding out how your body responds to physical stress and figuring out areas you can work on.
For practice hikes, look for variable terrain and elevation. This will help you gain insights on how your body responds to certain changes and how you can cope with them without injuring yourself.
5. Prepare yourself mentally
Mental preparation is as important as physical preparation. Fear is one of the most common reasons why some people backed out from a booked hiking trip or gave up in the midst of a long hike.
Include visualization as part of your preparation. Think of your ideal outcome for this trip and really feel it. When doubt starts to creep in, remind yourself why you’re doing this and why you are more than capable of doing it.