By Lori Cipolla, Cranston, RI
To have the total package of a healthy body, it’s not just your physical state but your mental state as well. There are some tremendous benefits that come along with the sport of hiking and they include both physical and mental. These trails of nature can provide some amazingly beautiful and serene atmospheres. This is a great contributing factor in providing us with a clear mind, free from daily chaos.
According to a published study in the International Sports Medicine Journal, “long distance hiking can aid in healing. It has also been shown to improve antoxidative capacity in the blood of oncological patients.” In 2014 researchers released results of an interesting study. It showed hiking downhill was about twice as effective as uphill hiking in removing blood sugars and improving glucose tolerance. On top of these great benefits, you can burn up to 550 calories per hour based on your weight, the type of terrain and weight of your backpack.
Tips you should be aware of:
• If you are a newbie, I recommend starting on a smaller trail. Take a pack of some sort to get use to, but don’t over pack!
• Have your essentials: Extra water, First Aid Kit, snacks , sunscreen/bug spray.
• The Right Shoes
• Hiking Shoes are better for the following situations: shorter hikes that are well defined, if your not carrying a lot of weight, if you’re a seasoned hiker with built-up strength from your leg to your foot There are even ones with mesh material on sides for warm, dry climates so it’s more breathable for your feet. • Hiking Boots are better for muddy, damp and cooler weather. They are also a better option for someone who is susceptible to tweaked knees or rolled ankles.
• If there are steep, rocky slopes where you are headed , pack some fingerless or normal gloves.
• Use the buddy system. It is always good to have someone with you. If for some reason you can’t, let someone know where you are and roughly when to expect you back.
• Pack a camera to capture some of natures most beautiful imagery.
• Did I mention extra water? I can’t stress enough how easy it can be to become dehydrated especially in the hot summer weather.
Things you should do to prepare for the physical portion of a hike:
1. Depending on the type and length of trail, some require more endurance than others. You may want to increase your daily walking. Even add in walking poles as they help increase your shoulder strength. Don’t forget, you will be carrying around a backpack with your necessities during your hike.
2. Speaking of carrying around a backpack, you may want to practice this on your daily walks. You might even want to place the weight in there you would be carrying around to get familiar with it.
3. Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator to mimic hillier terrains.
4. Try out low impact exercising that do not damage joints like swimming.
5. Lunges are excellent for building downhill stamina.
6. Remember to stretch after all your exercises.
If your new to hiking and are looking for trails in your area I have provided a few websites: www.localhikes.com www.everytrail.com So the next time someone tells you to “go take a hike” you might just want to take them up on it! Lori Cipolla from Cranston , RI Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist. She is a figure athlete, wife, mom of 5, Fitmark Bags Ambassador & Advocare advisor. She can be reached at email@example.com and www.stayfitmomof5.com