With the cool, crisp weather and fall foliage, I can’t think of a better reason to go for a hike. Whether you’re hiking up a mountain, along a riverbed, or on a rail-to-trail, you’re guaranteed to get a healthy dose of fresh air and exercise. Being in nature is a great way to clear your mind and reconnect with what is truly important in life. Hiking is also a great activity for the whole family; it’s an opportunity to spend time building relationships with one another while engaging in a healthy practice. So why not get outside and explore the great outdoors? It may be just what you need to stay sane this holiday season!
Before you venture out, here are five tips to ensure your hike is fun, safe, and exciting:
- Wear appropriate footwear. Sneakers or trail shoes are great for short day hikes that do not require a heavy backpack or involve technical terrain. Longer hikes and backpacking trips often require hiking boots.
- Layer up. Clothing made of synthetic material, such as polypropylene, works best as a first layer. This will help wick moisture away from your skin. Fleece or wool makes for a warm and cozy second layer. Top it off with a waterproof, breathable outer layer and you’ll be good to go. Also be sure to keep your head, hands, and feet warm. Wear gloves, a scarf, a hat or headband, thermal socks and/or a face mask. If it’s really cold, add hand warmers to your gloves.
- Choose your location and map your route out in advance. Search for local county, state, and national parks in your area. You’ll often find trail maps and trail information, such as level of difficulty, type of terrain, and distance of the trails, on the park websites and/or visitor centers. Be sure to tell someone where you are going before you leave, and pack a map and compass/GPS to help make sure you do not get lost.
- Take water and healthy snacks along with you, like the new Apple Cinnamon, Barbeque or Parmesan & Olive Oil Medifast Crisps. They are gluten-free, packed with 7g of protein, and have no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or saturated fat. In addition to your snacks, pack water and, perhaps, a tool to purify water in case you run out. Dehydration can cause fatigue and muscle cramps along with many other complications. It can also increase your susceptibility to hypothermia.
- Pack safety items, such as a flashlight or headlamp, whistle, and first aid kit. Bring sun screen and sun glasses, too, to protect your skin and eyes. Consider putting all of your items in a backpack so that you can comfortably carry them around.
For more tips and resources, visit http://www.americanhiking.org.