Hiking is an excellent physical activity that can either be leisurely or quite physically challenging. The major benefit to living in Vancouver is we have a wide variety of gorgeous trails spread all throughout the lower mainland. Hiking is a full body workout and will greatly improve your cardiovascular endurance.
If you choose to do a more strenuous hike which may have sections of incline you will find your calves will get a nice workout as well. As a trainer I use a scale system to determine the level of intensity when it comes to cardiovascular training. If you use this scale on yourself you will be able to choose an adequate hike for your current level of fitness. The scaling system is called Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), meaning you will rate your exertion level on a scale of 1-10. On the scale, 1-3 is considered low energy exertion; this interval can be best correlated with an easy hike. 3-5 is considered mild intensity, 5-7 medium intensity and 8-10 high intensity. To put the intervals in a bit more perspective if you were at the high interval your heart rate would be beating very fast and your ability to hold a conversation would be greatly hindered. In the medium interval your heart rate would still be beating fast but you should be able to hold a decent conversation, one which will sound a bit choppy. To ensure you challenge the appropriate level of hike an intermediate hike would be correlated with the mild and medium RPE and an advanced hike would be correlated with the high RPE.
Although Vancouver has many trails nearby some are only open during specific times of the year. If you choose to challenge an intermediate hike make sure to pack an adequate backpack full of complex carbohydrates and water. If you are prepared the complex carbohydrates will ensure you have the appropriate levels of energy to sustain the entire hike. As you progress to the intermediate and advanced levels the hike can take anywhere up to 11 hours. For your convenience I have posted a link below to a website that lists all local hikes in Vancouver with times and intensity level.
Head of Fitness Development