Physical activity is an important part of overall health. Being active promotes a healthy weight, boosts your energy, lowers stress, and reduces the risk of health problems. A great way to be more active is to go on hikes as they allow you to explore the natural world around you while you exercise. Many people enjoy hiking in the summer and it’s an activity that can be done alone, with your pet, or with your friends and family. The benefits of going with a group include it being more safe in case of bad weather or accidents, and exercising with others motivates you to be more consistently active. Consider your personal limitations before heading out and it’s a good idea to start with short, low impact hikes and work your way up to longer, more complex trails.
Safety needs to be remembered for hikes, especially in the heat of summer and on longer, more uphill hikes. Go over the maps and make sure you know the route you will take thoroughly before you set out to minimize chances of getting lost. Whether you go alone or with a group, make sure to let someone else who’s not coming know your route and when to expect you back in case anything happens. Plan your hike so that you start out early in the day before it gets hot and you can be in shaded areas during the hottest parts of the day. Bring plenty of water and wear clothes made of a material like wool which pulls moisture away from the body to help keep you cool. This will help avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke, but remember to take breaks however often you need to. Wear sunglasses and sun block to protect yourself from sunburn and the heat. Check the weather forecast and be prepared for any chance of rain or storms. Start the hike by walking slowly to warm up, then increase to the speed you intend on maintaining without overexerting yourself, and then slow down your pace again near the end to cool down.
Always bring a bag of supplies on your hikes, but don’t bring anything unnecessary or the pack will become too heavy to carry any distance. Proper footwear is a must, good sneakers or trail shoes will suffice unless it is a long or especially treacherous hike where hiking boots are better. This will keep your feet from getting sore and prevent you from slipping and falling. A GPS, along with maps and a compass as backup are essential for navigation in case you get lost or go off the trail. Bring extra food, clothes, and water in case of bad weather, to keep your energy levels up, and prevent dehydration. Also, a way to start a fire, a flashlight, a whistle, a first aid kit, and a knife or multipurpose tool will all help in case of an emergency or if you get lost or are out later than expected. Organize your bag so that the items you’ll use first and most often are the easiest to get to. This will minimize needing to stop and dig around in your bag when you could be walking and enjoying the sights around you.
Consider bringing a camera, sketchbook, or journal to record the hike and your adventures.
Share your hiking tips below!
By Samantha Dillon, DR Vitamin Solutions