Hiking Your Way to Better Health | VitaMedica
Hiking for Exercise

Hiking Your Way to Better Health

Suffering from the winter doldrums and bored with your exercise routine? Hiking outdoors in the spring affords you the opportunity to get some great exercise while renewing your spirit and connecting with Mother Nature.

 

Whether you’re hiking just outside your back door or venturing out to more difficult terrain, you equipment needs are pretty basic. You don’t need a pair of hiking boots but you should wear a sneaker or shoe that provides plenty of ankle support and stability. Hiking boots made from Gore-Tex are softer, offer more ventilation and tend to be less expensive than a traditional hiking boot. Most importantly, the shoe should be comfortable. A good pair of running shoes or cross trainers should be adequate for the beginner hiker. Retailers like REI (www.rei.com), LL Bean (www.llbean.com) and Zappos (www.zappos.com) offer a wide variety of hiking boots for both men and women.

 

A light day pack is ideal as it can hold necessary items like local trail maps, tissue, lip cover, sunscreen, snacks, cell phone, money and water. A pack is also a convenient way to hold any trash that you don’t want to discard on the trail. Depending on how long you plan to hike, you should make sure that you bring sufficient water. Plan on consuming 12 oz. for each hour that you hike.

 

You might equate hiking as a casual workout, but hiking burns more calories than you think. Just a moderate hike, can burn upwards of 300 to 400 calories in an hour. So, you should expect to get a bit hungry. Healthy snacks include snacks like baby carrots or portable fruit like grapes, apples, and bananas. Raw mixed nuts provide protein and fat to help keep you satiated.

 

Not sure where to hike? Visit the Local Hikes website (www.localhikes.com) to find information on local hiking opportunities near both large and small metropolitan areas in the United States. Just enter in your zip code and a list of hikes will appear. By selecting a specific hike, you can learn more about local terrain, view photographs, read reviews, etc.

 

Traillink (www.traillink.com/home.aspx) offers detailed information on bike trails, walking trails, equestrian trails, and hiking and running trails including interactive trail maps, trail descriptions, pictures and more. Traillink is sponsored by Rails to Trails, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting local communities in converting unused railroad corridors into community trails.

 

Trails.com (www.trails.com) also provides comprehensive information on a variety of activities including hiking, fly fishing, skiing, snow shoeing, bird watching and mountain biking for the outdoor enthusiast.

 

Did You Know?

On May 29, 1953, Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hilliary were the first people known to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. While your sights might not be as high as Mount Everest, May is an ideal time to embark on a hike.