The best path to good health involves exercise. This does not mean joining a gym and hiring a personal trainer. A brisk walk is great for a cardio workout. Best of all, it's free to walk. After making several circuits around the neighborhood, it might help to expand the walking route. This is where the idea of hiking along a trail comes into play. The abundance of state and national parks means no one would be prohibitively far from a hiking trail. Just because someone has mastered the energetic walk does not mean that they are ready to take on the next level of outdoor recreation that would be an intense hike. This is an exercise that should be approached much like the hike itself: Slow and steady. Here are some valuable tips to make sure a hike experience can be a winning one.
Leave the Denim in the Drawer
Check the label on a pair of denim jeans. It will read, “Made with cotton.” That's great for casual wear but horrible on a mountain trail. Wet denim takes forever to dry out. It also draws out body heat leaving the wearer shivering. Embracing outdoor recreation means being prepared to embrace the elements and geological waterways. Cotton is not the clothing to be worn on these adventures.
Always Drink Water
Headaches, dizziness, and lack of focus are all signs of dehydration. The number one sign is when a person becomes thirsty. At that moment, the body is asking for water. On a hiking trail, the hiker needs to carry his or her hydration. Ideally, that would mean a six-ounce drink every twenty minutes. That keeps the hydration flowing before the body has a chance to get thirsty. Keep in mind that water is needed just as much on the way down as on the way up.
Break in Hiking Shoes Before the Hike
The first time a person goes on a hike is not the time to break in a pair of hiking shoes. Those shoes should be worn around for a few days before hitting the trail. It is also helpful to give the feet a break. During lunch or rest, remove the shoes and massage the feet. A nice foot cool down will help prolong the outdoor recreation.
Hikes work best in the early morning hours. The sun has not had a chance to reach its zenith for the day, and that means cooler temperatures. The longer a hiker waits to take to the trail, the less actual time they'll have outdoors. Getting stuck on a trail after dark is not recommended even for the most experienced hikers.
After all the preparation, an outdoor recreation adventure can go south in a heartbeat. Look no further than “127 Hours” for a prime example of that. There is nothing wrong with wanting to commune with nature by hiking solo. However, it is highly recommended that any hiker tells a friend where they are going and what trail they intend to use, just in case.