Start Hiking – Whether for the Beginner or Later-in-life Health-Seeker
Hiking is a great workout that is fun and feels nothing like a grind in the gym. It builds (or at least preserves) muscles and promotes cardiovascular health. If you have health concerns, by all means check with your doctor about cautionary measures.
This list will get you started:
- Start small – As with ANY new exercise, ramp up over time. This is especially true if you are older or in a lesser state of fitness. The ramp up to fitness is best done gradually to avoid muscle pulls, joint pains, and dizziness as examples. If anyone tells you that you are being too cautious, don’t listen to them–this is all about health and joyfulness, NOT competitiveness.
- Familiarize yourself with the trail – This will hold true for ALL levels of hiking. It is so easy to know a bit about a hike before setting out. If the trail has a name, Google it and spend a few minutes reading. Finding hikes is easy since there is so much online. You can just Google “local hiking trails” or go to www.hikingproject.com
- Go with a buddy – and pick a buddy who is OK with your speed and your stops to catch your breath, enjoy the scenery and wildlife and perhaps to take a photo. You do not want to feel pressure to keep up with someone younger, fitter or just being a competitive show-off. That is no fun. See: Picking a Hiking Buddy
- Wear the right hiking boots, preferably high-ankle – Properly laced, high-ankle boots will usually prevent ankle damage if you step on a loose rock or get into an ankle-twisting situation. See: Hiking Boots
- Use hiking poles – Hiking poles help with balance on rocks, ascending and descending loose terrain and gullies, and crossing streams on slippery rocks. They also transfer about 20% of the exercise to your upper body which is a good thing. See: Hiking Poles
- Take a small pack with some essential gear – see the Short-Hike Equipment Checklist. Be prepared for the unexpected.
- Take water for hydration and at least some GORP (trail mix) or an energy bar. See Nutrition on a Hike and Importance of Hydration
- If you are thinking of taking a dog along, be sure to look at Hiking with a Dog.