The Importance of Taking a Breather

As exciting as hiking is, it’s easy to become so caught up in the activity that we forget to stop and rest now and then. While many may argue that they only need to rest when they become tired, it’s important to establish a consistent schedule of rests while hiking, especially on longer treks. It helps to utilize regular rests in conjunction with establishing a hiking rhythm; it will go a long way towards keeping you healthy and energized. Keep reading to learn how.

The purpose of resting regularly is to slow down your heart rate, as well as your breathing, and rest your hearts and lungs. Furthermore, resting gives your body the time it requires to purge the lactic acids that build up in your muscles, as well as time to recover from the strain and soreness that rigorous hiking can cause.

To establish a good resting schedule, rest in regular intervals and make them part of your walking rhythm. Rest for 10 minutes after every one hour of hiking, and try to stick to these short 10-minute breaks throughout the actual hike, only using your lunch and dinner breaks for extended rests. Most hikers find that a 10-minute rest is the most effective duration when it comes to body recovery.

When you do rest, do so comfortably by making sure to take off your backpack and relaxing both your body and mind. Try to rest in a cool and shady location and even use your backpack as a back support when sitting down. The key is to get your body into comfort mode as quickly as possible.

During those longer lunch and dinner breaks, you’ll also want to give your feet a rest by removing your shoes and putting on slippers or sandals, or stay bare foot if the conditions allow it. Longer rest periods are also a great opportunity to do other tasks, such as drying any wet gear, looking over your map or GPS, and checking your equipment.

Along with establishing a steady rhythm for hiking, scheduling short rests for every hour you’re on the trail will go a long way towards ensuring you have a healthy, enjoyable hike. Some may scoff at the idea of stopping every hour, but ten minutes every hour will actually be much better than pushing yourself for two hours, only to take a half-hour break later. Like hydration, the point is to rest before the signs of fatigue appear. If you haven’t yet, try to implement rest periods into your own hiking routine; it won’t take long to feel the benefits.