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Fitness Special—Hike Forever: Age 18-35

Build your fitness foundation with this essential physiological info, tips on eating right and exercises for staying in prime hiking shape.

Eat Right and Stay in Shape

At 25, you can bust out a dozen miles on two Twinkies. But the savvy hiker is eating for the future. Focus on prevention–by downing foods that help prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, and osteoporosis.

Call it the paleo-Mediterranean diet: Build your menu around fresh whole vegetables, free-range meats, cold-water fish (like salmon), nuts, and fruits. These foods are low in heart-clogging saturated fats and refined carbohydrates and sugars, and high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote cell membrane health. Nuts are loaded with B vitamins, especially B12, which improve your mood and fight stress. Reasonable portions of red meat (grass-fed, not corn-fed) also help regulate hormones and support your reproductive system.

Power Bites
Set the stage for a lifetime of healthy summits by preventing disease onset with this delicious, stress-lowering, vitamin B-packed gorp.

1 cup dried unsweetened blueberries
1 cup raw peanuts*
2 cups maple pecans
1/2 cup chia seeds (available in most health-food stores)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup unsulphured apricots, quartered
1 cup unsweetened cranberries
*If allergic to peanuts, substitute cashews

Stay Loose to Prevent Injury
In a 2008 study at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, researchers found that static stretching (the kind you hold) made athletes less powerful. Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, loosens muscles and increases range of motion. "I do complete movements that engage and lengthen every muscle," says distance hiker Andrew Skurka. Move in and out of stretches for 30 seconds, repeating each 3-5 times.

1. Hamstrings
With legs extended straight in front of you, reach for your toes. Ease off, reach again.
2. Groin, hips
Sit in the butterfly position and gently move your knees up and down in one fluid motion.
3. Hips, quads, glutes Lie on your back with your right ankle crossed above your left knee, and both hands placed behind you. Lift your trunk off the ground, and gently push your upper body toward your feet. Release and repeat, alternating sides.

Trail mix recipes by Esther Cohen (
Yoga poses by Margaret Burns Vap (

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