Head for the Trails

The first hint of summer weather usually lures the gym rats into the great outdoors. By July and August, however, the rising temperatures, increasing humidity and unforgiving sun often leave the recreational types seeking alternatives. Here’s a suggestion: Head for the trails. The abundance of trees usually results in shadier and cooler terrain. That means outdoor training can be done in the dog days of summer.

A popular fitness activity for a mountain or—in the case of Long Island—hill environment is trail running. From relatively flat trails that are easily accessible by automobile to the general public here on the Island to the hardcore trail runs found upstate that ascend and descend thousands of feet, this form of exercise is both exhilarating and unpredictable. For example, particularly precipitous inclines might even involve scrambling.

Two trail running precautions:
1. Stay alert: Hill trails are not static and it’s not unusual to find yourself dodging trees that have fallen, sudden dips or rises, or even a furry creature or two.
2. Proper shoes: Any reputable sporting goods store of adventure sports establishment should be able to fit you with the right trail runner for your needs.

Another option for hill and trail exercise is pole hiking. This is less strenuous and/or tricky than trail running but no less exhilarating. Getting involved requires a trip to the store for hiking shoes and a good set of rubber-tipped hiking poles. These poles facilitate the use of your upper body to make this summertime activity a more complete form of exercise.

Kelli Calabrese, MS is an exercise physiologist and fitness author who has written about pole hiking. “You move with quicker, smaller steps, your arms are pumping and it’s almost like race-walking,” she says. “The upper body motion really gets the heart rate going. It’s a great way to add some intensity to your hiking.”

Speaking of intensity, how about mountain biking on Long Island? If that’s sounds unlikely, consider the non-profit advocacy organization called Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists (CLIMB). Established in 1990, CLIMB is “dedicated to the growth and safe enjoyment of mountain bicycling. We promote a strong relationship between recreation and conservation by educating the mountain bicycling community on environmentally sound and socially responsible trail use.

For more info on Long Island mountain biking, visit http://www.climbonline.org. For more info on Long Island hiking, visit http://www.hike-li.org.