Living and practicing in the Pacific Northwest, hiking is a big part of the lifestyle. Living next to the Columbia Gorge, Mount Hood, and the Coastal Mountain Range provides endless opportunities to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. As a result of practicing in the Northwest I’ve worked with 100’s of hikers whose joint pain is keeping them from enjoying their time on the trail.
In this article we’ll show you the best exercises for hiking over the age of 40. Include these exercises to prepare for your next big hiking adventure or to maintain your hiking routine as you get older.
The Best Exercises For Hiking Over 40
As we age, it’s important that we focus on exercise routines that build strength without stressing our joints. The following exercises will help you improve your balance and build the hip, core, leg strength to prepare yoru body for your next hiking adventure.
The Glute Bridge
The glute bridge is the safest and most effective exercise to build hip and hamstring strength for hiking. It’s also an easy exercise to progress or regress to match any ability level.
A strong core is important for all our activities, but especially for hiking. Planking is the safest way to buiild core strength without aggravating our joints. Like the bridge, there’s many variations to fit all ability levels.
The Side Plank
The side plank strengthens important spinal stabilizers as well as the lateral hip muscles (glute med) responsible for supporting us in a single leg stance. This static hold also places minimal impact on our joints, which is why we love it for hikers over 40!
The Step Up Exercise
The step up is a functional leg strengthening exercise. The exercise itself is the same movement you use to climb while hiking. Building strength in this movement prepares your body for climbing those steep terrains.
It’s important for hikers to be able to support themselves in the single leg stance. This will limit impact on your joints and prevent muscle strains as you hike. Toes taps is a great beginner exercise to improve balance and build strength in the single leg stance.
The Reverse Lunge
The reverse lunge is another functional exercise that’s important for hikers. Like the step up, the lunge exercise is one we use on the trails and why we want to build strength in the movement. I always start hikers with the reverse lunge as it’s safer on the knees than the forward lunge.
Standing Hip Abduction
The standing hip abduction is one of the best exercises for hikers to improve balance, single leg strength, and glute med strength. This is an advanced exercise and may not be suitable for everyone.
The Single Leg Deadlift
The single leg deadlift is another advanced exercise for hikers to improve balance and build single leg hip strength. Be sure to keep a neutral spine to avoid injurying your lower back.
The best exercises for hiking over 40 are the ones that build strength without stressing your joints. By improving balance and building strength in our hips, core and legs we can ensure our body is strong enough to maintain our favorite hiking routine.
To learn more about improving movement and strength to improve your hiking experience (and overall quality of life), be sure to join our community and download your free ‘Solving Pain With Strength’ exercise program below.