Hiking is beneficial for almost everyone, but it is important to take some precautions, possibly a friend and some specific gear for your endeavor. First and foremost, know where you are going and know the trail. Be sure to you plan to hike during daylight or know whether or not the trail is lit. If you are planning on going on a secluded trail, find a hiking partner to not only keep you company, but to also keep you on track. If it is going to be dark, bring a flashlight. Regardless of daylight or not, always carry your phone in case of an emergency. Also, bring a compass.
Check the weather before you head out for your hike. Dress in layers, due to not only fluctuations in your body temperature, but also depending on the elevation, the outdoor temperature may be cooler or warmer. If it is going to rain, wear something that is waterproof, such as a gortex jacket. Footwear is of utmost importance so be sure to get a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or boots. Make sure your shoes are waterproof and have good traction. You also want to break your shoes in before hiking.
I live in Arizona, so I never hike without sunscreen. Even in winter months, regardless of where you live, it is important to slather on sun protection. Depending on the time of year, you may also want to bring insect repellent. If you’re going on a long hike, consider packing a first aid kit, in case you’re too far to get the immediate care you need.
Regardless of the length of your hike, carry water and hydrate. There are many different types of hiking hydration gear. Also, bring trailmix or an energy bar for longer treks to keep your blood sugar steady.
If you’re planning on hiking in the snow it may be a good idea to invest in walking sticks. Walking sticks can also be useful when climbing hills during the non-winter months or for helping you stabilize while coming down a slippery hill. Most importantly, gear up to enjoy nature. This time to get to know yourself.
Joanne Sgro is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness.