10 easy steps you can take right now
This is the time of year when everyone is focused on fitness. If you’re considering a walking holiday, you’re probably wondering whether you’ll be able to keep pace with the group.
At Ramblers Walking Holidays we have trips designed for all levels of fitness. Of course, some are more challenging than others and that’s why we have a grade system to give you a good idea about the distance, terrain and altitude. We always suggest you consult it first or talk to our friendly reservations team to select the trip that’s perfect for you.
In general, you don’t have to be ridiculously fit for a walking holiday. But if you get yourself used to going longer distances as well as improve your body’s flexibility, it will help you enjoy the experience even more.
So where should you begin? Well, if you’ve never had a regular exercise routine*, it’s best to ease in slowly.
Luckily, we know some expert walkers to consult: our RWH leaders! Angie, Julia, Sheila and Tom – who’ve led countless tours all over the world – shared simple exercise activities along with a few nuggets of wisdom on how to prepare for your walking holiday. Here are 10 of their top tips and good-for-you goals that you can do now!
1) Start walking.
Before you tackle hills, valleys, countryside and coast, just head outside and walk around your own neighbourhood – gently at first. Another good way to begin is by strolling to the shop every day, rather than taking the car once a week (just remember to social distance and don’t forget your mask).
2) Add stretching.
Heard the phrase ‘stretch your legs’? It not only refers to walking, but it’s also good advice! You really should stretch your ankles, calves, shins and hamstrings before and after walking. This is because getting your body limber will make you more comfortable. Warming up increases the temperature in your muscles and joints as well as the blood flow – all of which help reduce soreness when you walk.
3) Walk more.
To improve your walking fitness, regular small increases in distance or the same distance done in less time is key. Aim to do just a little more each time you go out, otherwise your body will get used to the same distance and become comfortable with that. Ultimately, you’ll want to have a good idea of what distance you’re planning to walk on your holiday and then build up to that.
4) Monitor your progress.
Lots of people like tracking their distance by using a pedometer or a step counting app on a mobile phone or smart watch. Or you might prefer keeping a personal diary of your walks. Brief entries are fine – merely note your distance and time, plus you could add details about something beautiful or interesting along the way. You’ll have a nice record of your walks and be amazed at how much you spot.
5) Practise in different weather.
Go out in your local area in all temperatures and elements – wind, rain or shine. Not only does this keep you in the habit of walking, but it also gets you adjusted to different weather conditions as well as provides an opportunity to experiment with clothing and equipment you may need while on holiday.
6) Climb stairs.
Do you have a staircase in your house? Place a jar of beads at the bottom of it. Every time you go upstairs, take a bead and put it in another jar at the top. At the end of the day, count how many you have. The next morning, take the jar downstairs and add a bead. Whatever happens, make sure you’ve taken all the beads up (one at a time, obviously) before the day is done.
7) Find a hill.
If you live in a relatively flat area, seek out your nearest hill and start walking up it. Do this two to three times a week, very slowly at first but gradually speeding up. Eventually you’ll want to determine what the ascent of your walking holiday is and aim to find out what that feels like.
8) Try other exercise.
Complement your walking with other forms of exercise to build your overall fitness by using different muscle groups. This can be anything from swimming, golf or cycling to yoga, Pilates, tai chi or dancing – whatever floats your boat. You can find exercise videos for these and much more on YouTube. Another wonderful workout that’s accessible to all is Nordic walking, which involves specially designed poles.
9) Walk with a friend.
At times you may get busy or distracted and forget to exercise. By organising a walk with someone, you’ll be able to motivate and encourage each other, plus having company adds more enjoyment. Book these dates in your diary. They’re great for keeping you going.
10) Do test walks.
Finally, a few weeks ahead of your holiday, go on walks that are the appropriate distance, duration and ascent (as per the grade advice). This will build up your fitness and stamina, along with your confidence. Be sure to do some of these test walks on successive days.
Bonus tip: You can do most of these things in your walking boots!
For more information about walking fitness, check out the articles How fit do I need to be for a walking holiday? and Keep on walking and keep fit with leg exercises at home. Plus, look out for more blogs in the coming weeks that will help you get ramble ready.
*Please note: If you have any doubts about walking or exercising at all, talk to your GP first who can advise and create a plan for you.