If you are new to hiking or have not explored beyond familiar urban trails, these tips are for you.
Hiking (aka walking) is one of the most accessible, beneficial forms of exercise.
As with starting out in any new sport or activity, it’s best to start slow and build gradually. If you haven’t walked more than an hour at a time, don’t attempt a six-hour, overnight trip on your first hiking activity. Start with familiar trails or trails that are relatively flat and accessible.
Listen to your body
Getting out in nature is often about listening to birdcalls and the gentle sound of wind in the trees. But don’t forget to listen to your body. If you feel a hot spot or pain in your foot, stop and check it out. A band-aid applied at the first sign of trouble can save you from a nasty blister later on. If your legs are cramping, stop and stretch for a few minutes. If you need to rest, take a break.
By listening to your body, you are more likely to prevent injury. You are also more likely to have the energy and desire to get out again soon. Be kind to yourself and to the body that is carrying you.
Hopefully nothing will go wrong, but it’s always best to be prepared that something might. Bring a cellphone, but don’t rely on it. Let someone know where you are going and what trail you are going to be walking on. Bring water and some healthy snacks. Pack a basic first-aid kit and ideally an emergency kit and flashlight too. Bring extra layers in case of rain or unexpected drop in temperature.