A Beginner's Guide to Hiking

Now that the weather is warmer, it’s time to head outdoors to exercise. And if you want to take your walking routine up a notch, why not hit the trails and try hiking? Whether you live in a big city, the suburbs, or in a rural area, you can easily take a hike through a local park, a woodsy part of town with well-marked trails, or on the beach (sand makes for a great workout!) — or check out Rails to Trails to find old railroad tracks that have been converted to trails in your area. Hiking not only challenges your muscles in new ways and helps you lose weight faster, it’s also a great opportunity to get in touch with nature, relieve stress, and enjoy the fresh air. Bring the family along!

If you’re a hiking newbie, follow these tips before you head outdoors:

  1. Pack healthy snacks and water. You can bring nuts, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese sticks, or natural no-sugar-added peanut butter and veggies on all Phases. On Phase 2, you can enjoy some fresh fruit — apples and pears travel well. Our South Beach Diet 100-Calorie Snack Bars, Good to Go Cereal Bars, Extra-Fiber Good to Go Bars, and Gluten-Free Good to Go Bars are also convenient take-along options when you don’t have time to prepare a snack. To carry your water, use a reusable water bottle or canteen made out of polycarbonate.

     

  2. Wear appropriate attire. Consider the weather and dress accordingly. Layering is good and having a rain jacket handy is a plus. Wear shoes that can handle the trails and terrain. Hiking shoes or hiking boots are ideal for rugged paths because they have more traction and are stronger and sturdier than regular sneakers. And remember, synthetic athletic socks are better than cotton because they wick away moisture and help keep your feet dry and blister-free.

     

  3. Bring a map of the trail if possible. Remember to check the weather and trail conditions before you start your journey to ensure a safe trip. If you’re traveling to an unfamiliar area to hike, check with a local bookstore or tourist organization for a map. You may also try researching the area online to see if it’s possible to print out a map before you go.

     

  4. Consider your conditioning. If you’re not in shape, a half-mile hike round-trip that’s less than 500 feet in elevation gain is a good start. As you build your endurance you’ll be able to hike longer (and steeper).

     

  5. Bring along a first-aid and emergency kit for longer hikes. Make sure it includes a safety blanket, bandages, a flashlight, a small pocket knife, sun-block, insect repellent, and waterproof matches.

     

  6. Always tell someone where you’re going and whom you’re with. This is important in case of an emergency. That way, if something happens, there will be a person who can help locate you. A GPS-enabled cell phone is also good to have.

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