With the weekend weather set to be mild, what better time to head outdoors and take a hike? An amazing form of exercise, hiking is great for the whole family. Hiking offers you a fabulous full body workout, providing cardio and resistance training all in one; it will literally tone every muscle in your body! Plus, you get the added benefits of Vitamin D, fresh air and gorgeous scenery. Multiple studies have shown that connecting with nature produces a calming effect. Additionally we all know that exercise releases endorphins (your brain’s “feel good” chemicals). With all of these amazing benefits plus a break from the gym…why wouldn’t you try it? Here are a few pointers:
- Stick to the Trail – Unless you are a very experienced hiker armed with a map and a compass, do yourself a favor and stick to a well-marked (and well-travelled) trail.
- Plan Your Time Wisely – Know approximately how long your chosen trail will take prior to beginning your hike. Be sure to allot yourself enough time to return during daylight hours. True story…I once forgot that the clocks had switched due to daylight savings and wound up stranded on a trail in the woods having to “run for it”…it was not fun…it was scary.
- Use the Buddy System – For personal safety reasons, I always suggest hiking with someone else. Heaven forbid one of you should be injured in any way there is always someone there to help you. Also I don’t recommend that females go strolling through a wooded area alone…it’s just not smart.
- Bring Water – Be sure to keep yourself hydrated as you will be working out pretty hard over an extended period of time. You may also want to pack a snack for yourself. Typically you will not see trash receptacles along the way, so expect to carry out whatever you choose to bring in.
- Be Sure That Your Cell Phone is Fully Charged – You know that your cell phone only dies when you really need it. Be prepared…charge it up before you go!
- Dress Appropriately – The proper footwear is essential. Above (and below), you will see that I am wearing sneakers. I was out for a relatively short (approximately 75-minute) and mildly challenging hike for which sneakers were appropriate. For a longer, more challenging hike I would recommend hiking boots. Additionally, you may wish to dress in some light layers which can be easily added or removed.
- Wear Your Sunscreen – I have said it before and I will say it again…wearing sunscreen regularly is one of the simplest and most effective tools in your anti-aging arsenal.
- Enjoy Your Time at the Top – It is a great feeling when you finally summit the mountain…be sure to leave yourself some time to hang out up there and enjoy the view from the top!