BECKLEY, W.Va. — With its walkable towns and seemingly limitless hiking trails, West Virginia is ideally suited to "rucking," an extremely accessible exercise growing in popularity both as a group pursuit and a solitary endeavor.
Rucking, or simply walking with a weighted backpack, is relatively easy and inexpensive and can provide for dramatic weight loss, according to Levi Moore, an outdoor adventure instructor working to expand the pastime in the Mountain State.
"Anywhere you can hike, you can ruck," says Moore, who's become an adherent, thanks partly to the ease with which it can be accomplished.
A form of exercise rooted in military training, it gains its name from the term "rucksack." It has been employed as a chief form of conditioning as early as the formation of the Roman army and is also known as a "loaded march" when the pace of the ruck is fast.
To encourage interest, Moore will engage in a 24-hour ruck around the YMCA Soccer Complex in Beckley from noon until noon on November 18 and 19 and is inviting all who wish to explore the sport to join him along the way.
In the meantime, Moore suggests West Virginians searching for a means to burn more calories throw on a sturdy backpack with five to 10 pounds of weight and hit the trail of their choice.
You'll find plenty of information about rucking online to help you get started, he says.
Six ways in which rucking is an ideal exercise
As simple and easy as rucking may sound, there are innumerable reasons to start. Here are six reasons
Increased Calorie Burn
Rucking with a backpack that weighs between 10 and 20 percent of one's body weight can burn an average of 500 to 1,000 calories in an hour, comparable to running or cycling.
Rucking strengthens multiple muscle groups, including the legs, back, and core. This boosts metabolism and helps burn calories even when someone isn't trucking.
Stress can lead to weight gain and a sluggish metabolism, but regular exercise helps reduce stress and creates an ideal environment for weight loss.
Rucking is a low-impact exercise. It's easy on the joints, making it an excellent option for people with knee or back problems.
The key to a good weight loss exercise program is consistency. Since rucking is low-cost and can be done anywhere at any time, it increases the likelihood of being able to maintain.
Since rucking is done while walking, it allows for a pace adequate for holding a conversation. Unlike other physical activities for weight loss, it will enable individuals of different fitness levels to participate together. A more fit person can add more weight to their ruck to maintain a pace appropriate for a less fit person.
Get rucking in West Virginia
Ready to start? Here are some tips to help you start as early as today.
Invest in a good backpack.
A comfortable and well-fitting backpack is crucial. Look for a pack with adjustable straps and a sound weight distribution system to ensure a comfortable and safe experience. If you’re just starting, any pack will do if it can bear the weight.
Start with a light weight.
Beginners should start with a weight of perhaps 5 to 10 pounds and gradually increase as their fitness improves. Some local sports stores may carry rucking weights and backpacks.
Find a good trail.
Look for a well-maintained walking or hiking trail that you can use regularly. This is usually not a problem in West Virginia. Because of the sheer number of trails available privately and publicly in the Mountain State, you'll be able to find plenty of other routes to add variety.
Set realistic goals.
Start with short rucking sessions of 15 to 30 minutes and gradually increase the duration. Consult a physician before beginning any weight loss or exercise program.