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What is rucking and why should you do it?

Rucking has taken the fitness world by storm thanks to long walks wearing a weighted backpack improving cardiovascular health, building strength and endurance, and enhancing mental well-being. Discover what rucking is and how you can add it to your holistic health routine to to reap the mental and physical benefits that only come from spending more time in the great outdoors

Before we dive into this article on everything you need to know about rucking, we apologise in advance for any unfortunate typos: the “r” and “f” on a keyboard are a little too close for comfort.

Right, rucking is a simple yet highly effective form of exercise that has gained rapid popularity among fitness enthusiasts and outdoor lovers alike over the last year or so.

Put simply rucking involves walking or hiking with a weighted rucksack to create a single activity that combines cardiovascular fitness with strength training. This blend of endurance and resistance exercise offers numerous health benefits and best of all rucking a viable exercise option to people of all fitness and training experience levels.

Whether you’re looking to improve your physical health, enjoy the outdoors, or add variety to your fitness routine, rucking might be the perfect activity for you. Here’s more on what it is and how do it, plus everything else you need to know, to incorporate the latest fitness craze into your holistic approach to health and fitness.

What is rucking?

Rucking is a form of low-intensity cardio exercise where you walk or hike with a weighted backpack, known as a rucksack. Originating from military training, it combines cardiovascular exercise with the added challenge of carrying weight. The weight increases the intensity of the workout, making it an excellent way to build strength, endurance, and stamina. Rucking can be done on various terrains, from city streets to hiking trails, making it versatile and adaptable to different fitness levels.

How do I do it?

To start rucking, you’ll need a sturdy backpack and weights. Beginners can use items like water bottles, books, or sandbags, gradually increasing the weight as they build strength. Start with a light weight (around 10% of your body weight) and a short distance, then progressively increase both as you become more comfortable. Ensure you wear supportive footwear and maintain good posture to avoid injury. It’s important to warm up before and cool down after your ruck. As with any exercise, listen to your body and adjust as needed.

Should I go rucking?

Rucking is suitable for most people, regardless of fitness level, as it can be easily scaled to meet individual capabilities. If you’re looking for a low-impact, high-reward exercise that combines cardio and strength training, rucking is a great choice. However, those with existing back or joint issues should consult a healthcare professional before starting. The versatility and simplicity of rucking make it an appealing option for those seeking a functional, effective workout.

How will rucking improve my health?

Rucking provides numerous health benefits. It enhances cardiovascular fitness by increasing heart rate and improving blood circulation. The added weight builds muscle strength, particularly in the legs, core, and back. It also improves bone density and promotes better posture, according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. What’s more, rucking burns more calories than walking, aiding in weight management and fat loss. The outdoor aspect can boost mental health, reducing stress and improving mood.

Why is it growing in popularity?

Rucking is growing in popularity due to its simplicity, accessibility, and effectiveness. Unlike other forms of exercise, it requires minimal equipment and can be done almost anywhere. The social aspect of the activity, often done in groups, adds to its appeal, fostering a sense of community and motivation. Fitness experts and military veterans advocate rucking for its comprehensive health benefits and practical fitness gains. As people seek functional and sustainable ways to stay fit, rucking stands out as an excellent choice, not least for enabling you to spend more time outdoors.

What are the main safety considerations around rucking?

When rucking, safety should be a priority. First, start with a manageable weight to avoid injury, typically around 10% of your body weight for beginners. Gradually increase the weight as your strength improves. Wear supportive footwear to protect your feet and ankles, and ensure your rucksack is well-fitted to avoid strain on your back and shoulders.

Maintain good posture by keeping your back straight and your shoulders back. And be mindful of the terrain you choose; uneven surfaces can increase the risk of falls and injuries. Always warm up before starting and cool down after to prevent muscle strain. Finally, stay hydrated and listen to your body – if you experience pain or discomfort, stop and assess before continuing.

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