Hiking has to be one of my all time favorite fall activities. When I go alone, I get to think and reflect, set goals and realistically evaluate my life. My breath and footsteps keep me grounded and centered, and I often come home with a renewed vision of myself, my life and my goals. If I just need an escape, and don't want to think or focus, then I grab a headset and the music takes me away. When I'm out with someone else, it turns into focused quality time and good conversation. Seems that it is perfect for whatever my mood!
Here are a few tips for a good hike:
1. Find a safe, cleared path. Many state parks and recreation areas have maps of their trails online and may even include trail descriptions, difficulty level and mileage. Check out www.trails.com for hikes in your area.
2. Wear comfortable shoes with good traction. Trail runners are my favorites, but any hiking boot, walking or running shoe is probably fine as long as it fits well and is comfortable. To prevent blisters, toes should have plenty of wiggle room (feet will swell after a long walk), but heels shouldn't slide up in back.
3. Dress in layers. You may want light weight long pants if there is lots of brush or narrow trails. Bring a light waterproof jacket if the weather is in question. Wear a hat or sunscreen your head and don't forget your ears.
4. Pack smart. Water is a necessity! Bring enough for at least 4 oz every 20 minutes. Other items to have in your pack: your ID (just in case), bandaids, sunscreen, bug spray, lip balm, and a light snack.
5. Choose your adventure. How fast you take to the trails is up to you and what you want to accomplish. A hike can be an intense workout or a time to relax your mind and enjoy nature, or both - the choice is yours. When starting out, take it easy and give your muscles, particularly your quadriceps (the front of the thigh) and your calves, time to adapt to the increased demands of hiking.
6. Don't forget to stretch. A few minutes into your hike, stop and take a light stretch break, and afterwards, five minutes for deeper stretches. Stretch all your leg muscles well, but also be sure to stretch the back and neck, especially if you we're wearing a pack.
7. Be aware of your surroundings. Know the potential hazards of the area (rattlesnakes, slippery slopes, poison ivy?) and be prepared. Tell someone where you're going and when you expect to return, have a map on you, and avoid being out after dark.
Jonna Reynolds is a Weight Loss Coach and Founder of Evolve. She coaches individuals, groups and corporations on Wellness and Weight Management. Her coaching technique incorporates the psychology of behavior change, exercise physiology and an intuitive eating philosophy to help clients make permanent lifestyle changes to lose weight for the long term. To get free monthly tips, sign up for the free Evolve4Life Newsletter at http://www.evolve4life.com or call (480)248-2428.