Out here most retirees are outdoorsmen
(and frequently outdoorswomen)
So you’d expect us to know the ropes from our years of hiking and skiing.
But what about the rest of you who are occasional hikers — or just walkers?
Okay, here’s three tips I and my Geezer friends do that have two important benefits.
A. They almost assure us we’ll prevent heart problems — that threaten to raise that nasty word “death.
B. They give us more pleasure per hiking mile.
My First Tip
BackpackerBill’s got his first hiking poles!
At 89 I finally gave-in and got trekking poles.
Yes, Mister Nevermind went on-line and bought himself his first pair.
Earlier this summer I hiked a trail marked “difficult.”
There are eight stream crossings on stepping-stones in its three-and-a-half mile hike to the top of a ridge.
At the first stream crossing I nonchalantly stepped out onto the first stepping stone.
The stone rocked and I rocked with it, landing on my derrière in the stream.
Wife Joy, who’s a lot younger and wiser than me, insisted that while she wouldn’t mind my dying on a trail, she didn’t want me injuring myself so that I couldn’t get out on that trail any more.
As I said — “wiser.”
I bought my poles especially for stream crossings. But, also for other tricky rocky maneuvers.
I made a survey on the Internet for poles that fit my criteria.
The trekking poles had to be sturdy and light of course.
Must have comfortable cork handles.
Had to telescope up and down easily enough to strap them onto my pack when not in use.
I found what seemed the perfect pole, at a moderate, marked-down price.
So I gave in to my wife Joy’s wishes and ordered my, mountainsmith carbonlite pro trekking pole.
I’ve given them a go and they’re working so well that I’ve recommended them to my nephew who’s also dealing with balance in his later years.
Okay back to my tips.
My Second Tip
Monitor your heart rate.
This is far more important than trekking poles.
I monitor mine with the second hand on my wristwatch.
I find my pulse by laying my fingers on my throat alongside my windpipe and count my pulse for six seconds.
Once I have that number I add a zero, which is my heart rate per minute.
A simple rule-of-thumb.
So, my second tip, find your safe heart rate. And from that calculate the maximum rate you should allow yourself while exercising.
Find this by subtracting your age from the number 220.
This is the maximum heart rate for anyone your age — in good physical condition.
After I had open-heart surgery, I needed to “get back in shape” for hiking.
So I had to adjust my “maximum” way back down to a beginner’s number.
How I began checking my heart rate.
At first I found it best to use half my maximum heart rate.
I stopped hiking to take a rest until the rate dropped back to normal before hiking again.
Since I was 74 at the time, I subtracted 74 from 220, which gave me a maximum heart rate of 146.
So my first time of testing after my surgery I stopped hiking when my rate was above 73.
I waited until it dropped back to my “resting heart rate” of 55 before I began hiking again.
I stopped a few times when it reached 73.
After a few hikes, when I noticed my breathing wasn’t labored, I felt comfortable enough to raise my target a bit.
If like me, you are feeling good and know that you are sufficiently physically fit; stopping at this target of half your max will feel as if you hadn’t exerted yourself at all.
So when I was feeling up to it, I moved my target up to seventy-five percent of my max — a heart rate of 110.
Again, I stopped when my heart rate reached this point.
And I waited for it to come back down to normal before hiking again.
I hesitate giving this information because most of us are not as honest with ourselves as we ought to be.
And I’d hate to hear that someone developed a heart condition because of something I said.
So, as I cautioned earlier, be prudent and honest with yourself.
You really do know what shape you are in.
You are not twenty any more.
So monitor your heart rate — honestly.
For example, I’m now 89. So my maximum rate is 220 minus 89, or 131.
I rarely allow myself to reach that limit before I stop for a rest.
Usually I stop and rest when it hits 110 or occasionally 120. Rarely do I let it hit my max of 131.
I rest until it drops back down below 90 before I start hiking again.
Those numbers work for me, inasmuch as I’m in pretty good physical condition, from years of hiking at least two to three miles every day, and five to seven miles a couple of times a week.
In the end, you are the one who will judge your physical condition.
And being honest with yourself can mean life or death.
Sophisticated Monitoring Devices
In the past few weeks I’ve hiked with Geezers who’ve had different ways of monitoring their heart rate.
One uses his smart phone. It has a stopwatch feature.
Another has a device he straps to his bare chest to let him know his pulse rate.
And two others have smart wristwatches that give them their numbers.
It’s really a matter of costs.
My wristwatch is a cheap-o Swiss watch with a second hand, costing about $12.
My friend, with the chest-strap device, said it cost $300.
The smart phone was in the neighborhood of $400.
And the smart wristwatches were in the $600 range.
All of them give the good measurements.
Whatever – –
Just monitor your heart rate and pay heed!
My Third Tip
It’s all about attitude.
Know when to turn back.
As I say, you are no longer twenty.
Get over it!
You have nothing to prove.
It’s not wussy to say, “Guys, it’s been fun. But it’s time for me to turn back.”
Be honest with yourself, your age and weather conditions and you will enjoy hiking more than you ever imagined.
Just yesterday as I was coming down the South Boundary Trail, I heard a guy tell his hiking friend just that.
He’d only hiked in about a half mile, was seated breathlessly on a rock beside the trail.
His face was flushed.
He looked like he was only maybe in his forties or early fifties.
But he was honest and sensible enough with himself and his friend to not risk a heart attack.
I’ve turned back early on many, many occasions over the years.
Recently three of us turned back early because of weather conditions.
No big deal!
We were out to enjoy ourselves.
And we wanted to continue enjoying ourselves as long as possible.
I have nothing to prove — except to prove to my self that I can keep on hiking and enjoying it.
So that’s my advice for today.
Hiking poles if you like.
Monitor your heart.
Be honest enough to turn back when you feel you ought to. And still have enough energy left to get back out.
And truly, I mean truly enjoy getting old.
It can be one great, good time!
It is for me and most of my geezer friends.
I Have a Book in the Works about Geezer Hiking
If you want to be notified when it comes out, let me know.
Just send me your e-mail address and I’ll be sue you get the first few chapters free. With no obligation.
Don’t want to miss the Geezer Book announcement. It’s Free to hear about it.