How lucky are we? We live in Arizona where it is 70 degrees out right now and the rest of America is frozen and wet. We have some of the most beautiful hiking trails right in our back yard so I am going to discuss all of the benefits of hiking, tips for first time hikers and what you should eat before and during your hike!
Hiking outdoors comes with amazing benefits: nice views, fresh air, and the sounds and smells of nature. Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that boasts all the health benefits of walking. Because hiking is a weight-bearing exercise — you’re moving against gravity while staying upright.
Hiking is also good for muscle strength. It burns calories and can help you lose or maintain weight — targets and strengthens the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles for a challenging workout. Furthermore, when you increase the intensity by moving faster, carrying weight, or tackling more demanding terrain, you engage in an active workout. The more you hike, the more your muscles will become leaner and toned, especially in your lower body, which also takes pressure off your joints. This is great for anyone suffering from arthritis.
One of the main reasons I enjoy hiking is the mental and emotional clarity I feel while immersing myself in nature. Sometimes we need to get away from the noise of life and find some quiet time to think, and the outdoors are perfect for that. Also, it’s been proven that hiking and other outdoor activities reduce tension, stress, and depression. By taking some to breathe in the fresh air, feel the warmth of the sun on your face, and listen to the tranquil melody of nature, you can sort out inner struggles and stress in a healthy way.
TIPS FOR FIRST TIME HIKERS
1. Start slow. A short, local hike is best for beginners. Gradually work up to trails with hills or uneven terrain.
2. Bring a buddy. It’s best not to hike alone at first, especially on unfamiliar or remote trails. A partner or group can help you navigate and assist if you get hurt. As your skill level improves, you’ll feel more comfortable going solo.
3. Know before you go. Familiarize yourself with the trail map. Check the weather and dress and pack accordingly. If storms are a possibility, rethink your plan.
4. Use common sense. Follow marked paths and trails. Avoid contact with questionable plants and animals.
5. Make sure to eat a balanced meal before hiking. This includes a protein like eggs, chicken or protein shake and a carbohydrate like oatmeal, fruit or rice. I like to take snacks with me on the hike like trail mix and apples…there have been times where my blood sugar has dropped and I was able to balance it out with fruit that I had packed!
I know that we all have busy schedules and sometimes it’s hard to think about taking measures to improve our health. However, if your budget or do not feel comfortable with joining a gym are all that stand in your way, in terms of taking the first step towards becoming healthier, then I highly suggest going on a daily hike or even just a walk through the neighborhood. Not only will you be amazed at how quickly your body can strengthen itself through such an activity, but you’ll eventually be able to tackle longer distances and notice positive changes in your attitude.
So I encourage you all to get out this weekend, be active and enjoy some nice weather!