Happy Trails to You

white mts 1Boomers are hitting the trails in record numbers, most likely because they have the time to get out there and because it’s good exercise. Another factor might be that we grew up in one of the prime eras for hitting the open road and backpacking, and we want a little bit of that romance back in our lives.

What’s different about it this time around is that there is a little bit more chardonnay and a little bit less smelly sleeping bag. Boomers are finding new ways to get some great exercise in the great outdoors, but they also get their modern conveniences and creature comforts. It’s not unusual to see the boomers with their expensive backpacks and digital cameras, but the outdoors for them still resonates with a spritual zen factor that they want in their lives. The outdoors is still where you go to get away from it all, just like it was 25 or 30 years ago.

The Appalacian Mountain Club is white mts 2offering something they call 50+ Adventure Camps where you get to hike in the morning, take in a lecture in the afternoon, have a terrific meal (with chardonnay) and sleep in one of the lodge’s comfortable beds. For the many boomers who sign up for the program, it’s the ideal mix of getting away from it all but with a bit of creature comfort. Activities include a snowshoe trip up Mt. Willard, safety and survival lectures, Nordic ski tours, hiking Mt. Pierce, a trip to the New England Ski Museum, and a tour of the Mount Washington Hotel.

For those who don’t think hiking qualifies as “real exercise,” here’s the lowdown. You not only get a great cardiovascular workout, but your lower body gets an incredible endurance and strength workout. A 130-pound person can burn white mts 3up to 170 calories during a 30-minute hike, and a 170-pound person burns over 230 calories.

Consider some pre-hike conditioning. Hiking can cause soreness in muscles you never knew you had, particularly in your legs. Try using a stair-stepper or elliptical trainer and try some short hikes at low elevations with a small daypack. Some people strap on a full-load backpack while they walk on a treadmill. Looks weird but it does give you some real world conditioning. Keep increasing the treadmill incline and you really can simulate a hike to a summit.

Check out the American Hiking Society website for more information about hiking and fitness, as well as where to hike.

And happy trails to you!

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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