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About Sam Charles

Sam started her UK lifestyle blog, Strawberry Squeeze in 2013. Often accompanied by her partner in crime, Petal (the mini lop), she is an digital influencer, blog coach and a GAIQ SEO consultant. Sam spends most her time booking spa getaways, sea kayaking or dining out with friends and family.

How to Physically Prepare for a Hiking Trip (+ 5 Epic Hike Ideas!)

Hiking can certainly be a lot of fun, especially if you love being outdoors and keeping active. However, it’s no secret that this adventurous hobby also requires a lot of preparation – and not just route planning.

While some trails can be tackled by beginners with little or no experience, others require a higher fitness level. Planning for these trips includes assessing your fitness level to ensure you’re in good shape before you set off.

We did a fair bit of hiking in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and Italy our recent 2 month road-trip around Europe (and can you blame us?! Below is a photograph from one of our rest days when we were in Austria, just WOW! 😻). Planning on going hiking? Here are some tips on how to physically prepare for a hiking trip.

How to Physically Prepare for a Hiking Trip (+ 5 Epic Hike Ideas!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

1. Plansee, Austria. If you’re looking for untouched natural beauty, you’ll fall in love with Austria.

Plan before you set off!

Are you just starting out, and looking for something to “test the waters”? Maybe you’re a little more experienced, but looking to take things up a notch? Did you find your previous hiking trip a little too much, or perhaps a bit boring? 

Every hike is different, and the physical preparation will differ, too.

If you’re booking through an adventure travel company, you can always ask them what fitness level is required for the routes that interest you. They will often be able to help you assess if the trails of interest are suitable for you.

Know your fitness level ❤️

Assessing your fitness level before setting out on your first hike – or any hike, for that matter – is highly recommended. Not all days trekking will be the same, but that’s what makes it exciting!

If you regularly walk to work and back, play football on the weekends, and go to the gym three times per week, you’d be safe to class yourself as fit. More advanced trails are certainly on your radar, however, shouldn’t be underestimated.

Where a walk to the local chip shop is your primary form of exercise, you’ll need to better prepare your body!

How to Physically Prepare for a Hiking Trip (+ 5 Epic Hike Ideas!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

2. The Dolomites, Italy were truly epic! The Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop is perfect for beginners.

Get some training under your belt 

The obvious way to train for a hike is to get out and walk as much as you can. Anywhere you can reach on foot is an option – so ditch the car in favour of a walk to the local supermarket. In fact, carrying some shopping bags back from the shops will help you, too, as it is likely you’ll need to carry heavy bags with your belongings while hiking.

If hitting the gym, you’ll find that many treadmills feature an incline setting. For most people, these are simply a way of increasing intensity and adding “variety” to otherwise boring cardio workouts. For others, this setting offers a great tool to prepare for real-world hiking adventures.

Most treadmills max out at around 15% incline. This is pretty good, but if you’re looking to hike up demanding hills and mountains, you’ll likely want to try out a dedicated incline trainer.

An incline trainer is the same as a treadmill, however, is designed with a much steeper running deck. With incline percentages up to 40%, these are perfect for increasing the stamina needed for steep treks and mountain climbing. 

Although not cheap, you can easily save yourself some money by comparing gym equipment prices before you buy an incline trainer.

How to Physically Prepare for a Hiking Trip (+ 5 Epic Hike Ideas!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

3. Little further up… Glacier summit shot @ Gornergrat, Switzerland – Feeling on top of the world!

Keep hydrated on your hike

With so many variables to consider, it’s impossible to produce a definitive list of things to do while on your vigorous walk. That said, water and food are things we can accurately estimate.

Before setting off, you’ll no doubt have map of the route you’re taking. You should work out how many miles you’ll walk and calculate how long this will take.

Regarding hydration, a good rule of thumb is to drink a litre of water for every two hours walking. If it’s a hot day, with lots of uphill climbing, this should be the minimum you shoot for.

Remember, the more water you carry, the heavier your bag will be. For this reason, it’s important to accurately estimate how much water to take, to ensure an optimal fitness level.

How to Physically Prepare for a Hiking Trip (+ 5 Epic Hike Ideas!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

4. Views of Matterhorn from Riffelsee, Switzerland (Yes, that’s the Toblerone mountain!!) 🐻

Re-assess your fitness level after the hike

No matter how well you initially assessed your fitness level, or how much you physically prepared your body, you will now know the reality of how fit you are. Did you smash it? Was it a walk in the park (excuse the pun) or maybe it was more physically demanding than you imagined?

Those who found their most recent hiking trip difficult might add weight training to their preparation for next time. If you found it less demanding, you can aim for something a little tougher while having a “feel” for what areas you might need to address to ensure you’re at the right fitness level to tackle it.

How to Physically Prepare for a Hiking Trip (+ 5 Epic Hike Ideas!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

5. One of the most jaw-dropping hikes I’ve ever done, the Pragser Wildsee loop in the Italian Alps

Last but not least…

Physical preparation is an important part of hiking. When booking or planning a hike, ask experienced hikers and tour company advisors about the required fitness level.

Once you’ve shortlisted suitable trails, pick exercises to help you reach the right level: walk to the local shops if you’re a beginner; train on an incline trainer if you’re more experienced; and lift weights if you feel your strength needs improvement.

In addition to preparing you for the hike, these exercises and training methods will also keep your body in great shape for everyday life, too.

2018-12-14T23:57:43+00:00 December 15, 2018|Travel|

Chic Country Charm: Décor Inspiration for Your Home Office

Perhaps you run your own business and need a well-designed and designated space that feels separate from the rest of your home. Or maybe you have the desire to create an area just for you, where you can work on your side project or indulge in your favourite hobby. No matter the reason, there are many ways to style a functional yet sophisticated home office, filled with chic and comfortable country charm.

Chic Country Charm: Décor Inspiration for Your Home Office | UK Lifestyle Blog

Invest in Statement Pieces

For a country inspired office, the key to achieving this look is in selecting statement pieces. From an extravagant accessory to a large item of furniture, a statement piece will act as a focal point within a room and help to pull the overarching theme together.

In your office, make sure your statement items are timeless and fit with the surrounding space. If you have an entire room, this could mean finding the perfect desk. Alternatively, if your office is within another area, such as the dining room, consider storage that complements the interior, such as an oak country style sideboard.

Aim for a Lived-In Look

How would you describe a country home? Words like warm, welcoming, cosy, charming and comfortable may come to mind. As such, when designing a country-inspired office, forgo perfectly finished and polished pieces in favour of items with a raw, authentic feel. These will give that lived-in, rural style while also being sophisticated and chic for years to come.

Consider Finishing Touches

When trying to achieve any look within a home, the finishing touches are vital. For example, if trying to create a boutique hotel bedroom, upscale lighting and luxury fabrics are essential. When creating an office with a country design, the accessories can help to define the space, too.

In a charming country home, accessories are often abundant, with books, ornaments and items adorning every surface. So, when finalising your office, think about how you can emulate this. You could choose a vintage desk lamp, display wild flowers or select a raw wooden letter holder.

Make it Feel Inviting

Lastly, while an office must be practical above all, with space to complete tasks, an ergonomic chair and adequate storage. However, to achieve country style, your workspace must also be inviting. There are many ways to achieve this, including lazily draping a woven throw over your chair or enhancing the ambience by placing lighting at different levels.

Whether you have the space to dedicate an entire room to your office, or you are repurposing an unloved alcove, consider these tips to create a workable, charming and country-styled home office.

2018-12-14T18:38:58+00:00 December 14, 2018|Home Decor, Post|

Tips for Lighting Up the Living Room: Shine Baby, Shine!

Lighting is one of the most important and often under appreciated aspects of internal décor which can make or break all the other elements. It is also extremely important to match the lighting with the mood and the theme of a particular room, which is where we often go wrong. Take a look at the following tips to know how you can avoid common lighting mistakes and make your living room shine.

Tips for Lighting Up the Living Room: Shine Baby, Shine! | UK Lifestyle Blog

Three Different Types of Lights

The general rule is that a room as large as the living room requires three different types of lighting, which are categorised as ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. While you can get away with skipping the accent lights (especially when the space is quite small), ambient and task lighting are essential.

Ambient lighting 

This refers to the general lighting in any living room that acts as the primary source of illumination. There are many ways to go about it, but pendant lighting works particularly well for ambient lighting, given how many widely varying options you get with the ceiling fixtures here. There are tube LED lights, pyramids, cubes, birdcages, disco balls, chandeliers, cluster lights, classic round bulbs and so many other options that it is easy to get spoiled for choice, irrespective of the décor you have going on in your living room.

The ambient lights in a living room are responsible for creating the primary atmosphere, so choose carefully and in the right numbers. What this implies is that a particularly large living room may benefit more from multiple smaller pendant lights, than just one big chandelier, while one small chandelier with a mirror on one wall could actually make a small room look bigger than it is.

Task Lighting 

Just as the name suggests, task lighting refers to specialised light sources that serve to aid in a particular function. For example, a reading lamp or a recessed cabinet light meant for lighting up the kitchen counter is known as a task light because it helps the inhabitants of the home in performing certain specific tasks better.

Tips for Lighting Up the Living Room: Shine Baby, Shine! | UK Lifestyle Blog

Accent Lighting 

The job of accent lights is to highlight points of interest in the room. If you have ever seen cove lighting or tray ceilings, you know what accent lighting is. Alternatively, you can use sconces to accentuate a photo wall or a piece of art that you proudly own and would like to show off to your guests.

Dimmer Switches are EVERYTHING!

The brightness control which dimmer switches allow are a game changer and until the days come when we can use smart lights everywhere, they are a must for any living room. Not only do dimmer switches allow for perfect ambience control by enabling people to adjust the brightness in accordance with the available natural light, as well as the occasion at hand, they also help in bringing down the power consumption quite a bit over time.

Consider Colour Temperature

It may not look like it at the time of the purchase, but rest assured that unless every lightbulb that you are buying is of the same kelvin colour temperature, the whites and the yellows will differ from each other once you fit them into the fixtures and turn them on. Since a mixture could look quite clumsy, make sure that every bulb you buy has the same rating as the others, especially when dealing with pendant lights.

Making a living room shine isn’t about making it as bright as possible, but more about filling the entire room with just the perfect amount of light which it needs to look bright, inviting and cosy at the same time.

2018-12-14T18:26:29+00:00 December 14, 2018|Home Decor|
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