Climb Any Mountain! Tips for Hiking for Health

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Need a little more adventure? What about hiking? It can be relaxed and refreshing or strenuous and demanding. Depending on your needs, a good hike can put you in touch with nature or in touch with an elevated heart rate.

Taking a trek on the trails is more popular than ever since the pandemic; according to AllTrails, the largest hiking navigation app, the number of individual hikers in 2020 increased 134.7 percent compared to 2019. Hikes per user also increased by over 52 percent in 2020, compared to all the hikes logged from 2016 through 2019.

It’s no wonder people are drawn toward the trails. Not only is hiking good for the body, but it’s beneficial for the soul. The mental advantages of hiking include everyday stress reduction, a calming of anxiety and a lower risk of depression long-term. Physical benefits are plentiful as well. Hikers may feel more balanced and stronger while experiencing some weight loss. Regular treks in nature can also decrease the risk of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Whether you prefer to check out local paths or go somewhere away from it all, getting started is easier than you might think.

Companies are stepping up when it comes to producing hiking clothes that are high-performance and eco-friendly. Recycled fibers and newly engineered, natural materials are becoming mainstream in the exercise world, so hikers can rejoice. You can choose from many colors and prints, including those made with organic cotton, bamboo, hemp and more.

If you plan on hiking less than an hour, you may not need to take food. But walking any longer may require some snacks to stay steady on the trails. Good options include dried fruit, nut butter, nuts, seeds, granola bars and other easy-to-pack favorites. Apples, bananas and string cheese are convenient, fairly durable and stay fresh.

After a lengthy or strenuous hike, a general rule is to refuel with protein. This is best consumed about 20 to 60 minutes after a workout or strenuous hike because it will help repair and grow muscles. Finding what works best for your body may take some time.

Choosing a Trail
If you’re a newbie to hiking, finding paths close to your home may be the best option at first. After a few treks, you can search for different or more strenuous trails by checking options in your community or where you might be visiting. Look online for resources such as local parks and recreation, stores that sell hiking and recreational equipment, and hiking websites.

Hiking websites can be a wealth of information including if the path you’re taking is easy, moderate or difficult. Some sites will also note how long the trail generally takes to finish, the best way to access it, where to park and more. This information will not only help plan the hike, but could also help organize the entire day. When choosing where to wander, planning is essential.

How long will you hike and how far will you go? What’s your fitness level? Check the information about the path. Is it doable? Too hard? Too easy, or like Goldilocks, just right?

The weather can make or break a trek if you haven’t planned well. Know the forecast, temps and weather possibilities. Be prepared for just about anything with food, clothing and gear.

Know your trail! Awareness of the trail length, incline, difficulty level and the type of terrain can help hikers feel prepared and confident. Making note of how far the path is from where you are staying is also important. If you’re hiking with a group, it’s a good idea to highlight these things with them, as well as where the restrooms are located.

Hiking can be exactly what you want it to be. Some hikes are suitable for family fun, while others can take your breath away in more ways than one! Put your trail shoes on and tackle hills and valleys to work those glutes and hamstrings or just be closer to nature. The paths and choices are endless.

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