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Archive for the ‘Health & Fitness’ Category

Hiking to lose weight

boots on scaleHiking burns anywhere from 350 to 500 calories an hour, depending on how much you weigh now, how fast you go, how nasty the terrain is, how active your lifestyle already is, and a zillion other factors. Whatever it is, it’s gobs more than sitting on your fanny reading a computer screen.

How much can you lose by hiking? You have to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume to lose a single pound, which you could accomplish with a single 7- to 10-hour hike if you ate nothing all day, but that’s no way to live, much less hike.
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Tom posted at 8:46 am September 2nd, 2008

Blister treatment

While a a meter of prevention is worth a kilometer of cure, even the most careful hikers still get blisters.

Never forget that blisters are a medical condition that require first aid. They can get infected, and infection can put you in the hospital and (a Pacific Crest Trail through-hiker was nearly killed by septic shock resulting from infected blisters in June 2007 — an extreme case but it shows they are not to be trifled with).

The best thing to do about a blister is to stop making it worse and let the body’s healing powers take over. Few humans have the time or inclination to do this because blisters always happen in the middle of a hike with several miles of foot punishment between them and the trailhead.
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Tom posted at 11:27 am August 28th, 2008

Blister prevention: once you’ve got one, it’s too late

a heel blisterBlisters seem inevitable: the farther you hike, the higher your odds. Once they get going, they don’t go away and they generally get worse. So, the best thing to do about a blister is make sure you never get one.

Blisters are the body’s natural defense against excess heat and friction. Tips on avoiding them:

Start by reducing friction:

Duct tape: If you know you’re hiking many, many miles, try putting some duct tape on your trouble spots. The smooth outer surface is a natural friction fighter, and the tape provides a foot-protecting barrier.

  • Bar of soap: Rub some bar soap like Ivory inside your boots just before you start. Don’t get carried away or your foot sweat will turn your shoes into lather factories.
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    Tom posted at 9:17 am August 28th, 2008

    Strengthen your ankles

    Backpacker Sam H. added this excellent tip to the Lend a Hacks page:

    • Ever roll your ankle while you’re hiking? If so then you’ve either had the misfortune of injuring yourself in the process or coming very close. A quick and easy way to strengthen your ankles that takes little effort and even littler thought is something you can do every day. In the morning and evening while you’re standing in front of the bathroom mirror brushing your teeth, stand on one leg, feeling your ankle flexing to hold you balanced. Take turns on each foot to exercise both ankles equally.

    Your hacks are always welcome.

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    Tom posted at 8:18 am August 19th, 2008

    Fitness for hiking: the basics

    ShoeHiking is the best exercise for hikers. Walking on an uneven path with constant changes in grade and elevation work your leg and abdominal muscles in ways that won’t happen at the gym, no matter how you try. Two of the most popular exercise machines are unequal to the task:

    • Treadmill: Yeah, you’re walking upright, and you can turn up the angle to simulate hills, but with every step, the ground beneath you effectively gives way. Sure, the Earth moves, but not fast enough for your lower extremities to notice; hence, you don’t get the same exercise.
    • Stairmaster: Stepping-machines are more like walking in sand than on dirt, and they have the same problem as treadmills: they move in ways the planet does not.

    Pretty much every other exercise device has similar limitations. They’re fine for working your heart and large muscle groups, but you can work in the gym like a fiend and still find yourself winded on the trail, stepping aside for veteran hikers twice your age.

    So what if there aren’t any trails nearby for your daily workouts. What then? A few ideas: Read the rest of this entry »

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    Tom posted at 7:29 am August 19th, 2008

    Protecting your ankles

    ScienceGuy288 asks: “I want to purchase a set of Merrells. Now, I personally wanted some ankle support, but the mid-height ones seem to go really high and limit your movement. Any suggestions?”

    Good question, Guy, because “which is better, high or low tops,” is one of the great unsolved debates in the hiking world. I did some poking around on the Web this morning and found no clear, convincing evidence that high-tops provide a lot of ankle protection; some hikers think they make your ankles weaker precisely because they provide support, but I saw no science to back it up. They may also provide a false sense of security that encourages risky behavior, like seatbelts and bike helmets (both of which, mind you, people still use for obvious reasons).

    Main thing is: do you really need that extra protection? Read the rest of this entry »

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    Tom posted at 8:05 am August 15th, 2008

    Lightning: don’t get struck

    A lightning strike Numero Uno advice for avoiding a lightning bolt is to get your fanny indoors. Not much help for hiker types for whom being away from indoors is the whole point. Prime concerns:

    • Huge anvil-shaped thunderheads coming your way are lightning factories: bad, bad news.
    • Mind the “30/30″ rule: if you see a flash and hear the thunder within 30 seconds, you’re potentially in danger, and you will be for 30 minutes after you see the last flash.
    • Enclosed, hard-roofed areas with the windows closed are generally safe; convertible cars — and tents — are worthless.

    Really, there is no protection from lightning as long as you’re outdoors. All you can do is reduce the risk of a strike: Read the rest of this entry »

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    Tom posted at 11:14 pm August 14th, 2008

    Great for lunch: the smashed sandwich

    This is my wife’s tip:

    On day hiking trips you probably don’t want to use your regular backpack but still want to carry something more than energy bars and water. Hence the invention of the “smashed sandwich”.

    Place two slices of your favorite cheese, cut in half, in the center of a soft burrito. Top with lettuce and thin slices of tomato. Roll up the burrito and wrap it in foil. Place “sandwich” in your hiking bag cramming into the bag as needed. As you hike, the burrito will get softer, the cheese will get warmer and by lunch time you will have a delicious, nutritious smashed sandwich.

    (These are quite good).

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    Tom posted at 11:56 am August 14th, 2008

    Check expiration dates on first aid supplies

    At the start of backpacking season, or at least annually, check the expiration dates your first aid supplies. While bandages have a long shelf life, many of the medications, like Vitamin I, salves, antibacterial wipes, etc. expire within a year or two. Also, it is a good idea to check the expiration date of personal care items such as toothpaste, sunscreen, etc.

    An online company, Minimus, carries a wide variety of small and travel-sized items that you may need to replace. Their prices are surprisingly low and you can order a single two-tablet packet of ibuprofen or as many as you need. There are no minimum or set quantities and shipping is free on orders of $20 or more. We’ve ordered items from Minimus several times to update our earthquake kit and the orders have always been shipped quickly and accurately.

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    Tom posted at 10:22 am August 12th, 2008