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. Here are some starter suggestions—more will come in later newsletters and blog entries. 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’re older: 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 – if the trail has a name, Google it and spend a few minutes reading. Finding hikes is easy as 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. You don’t want to feel pressure to keep up with someone younger, fitter or just being a competitive show-off
- 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. Take a look at Rationale for Hiking Boots for some suggestions.
- Use hiking poles – Hiking poles help with balance on rocks, ascending and descending loose terrain and gullies, and crossing streams on slippery rocks. Be sure to check back next month for more on the benefits of using hiking poles.
- Take a small pack with some essential gear – see the Short-Hike Equipment Checklist.
- Take water for hydration and at least some gorp (trail mix) or an energy bar.
- If you are already a hiker and thinking of going for a bigger hike, either more hours or including mountain trekking, see The Bigger Hike.
- If you are thinking of taking a dog along, be sure to look at Hiking with Your Dog