8 tips for a successful hike

November 02, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Hiking is a fun and healthy outdoor activity to keep you moving all year long. It’s an opportunity to spend time in nature, breathe in the fresh air, get your heart rate up, reduce stress and lift your mood.

Check out these eight tips for a successful hike:

  1. Pick the right trail. Before you set out on your hike, pick a good trail for your group’s fitness level and familiarize yourself with it ahead of time, understand the terrain, etc. A 5-mile hike on flat ground is different than straight uphill. Pace yourself and start with small, manageable hikes (you can build on it each week). If hiking with a family/kids, take into account age and fitness level. If you’re setting out alone, let others know where you’ll be hiking and when you expect to return. Check out the map on this page to find a trail near you. Get 10 tips to plan your next hike.


  2. Put it on your calendar. Let’s be honest, our schedules can get hectic. Review your upcoming week (or weeks) and figure out the most practical day/s for you or your group to hike, then slot it into your calendar so you’ll make time for it. Check the local weather forecast before setting out on your next hike.


  3. Pack the essentials. Pack plenty of water (more than you need), food/snacks, first aid kit, insect repellent, sun protection, map, compass, waterproof matches/lighter, a headlamp/flashlight, batteries, extra clothes and your phone. Some hikers bring a GPS tracker or emergency device too. Learn what to include in your hiking backpack.


  4. Hydrate! Hydration is crucial before, during and after your hike. As you exercise, your body works harder and uses the fluids you take in at a higher rate. Aim for about a half liter of water per hour of moderate activity in moderate temperatures. Avoid caffeine. Take frequent water breaks throughout your hike.


  5. Bring energizing snacks. To fuel your hike, bring along some healthy snacks to keep you nourished and energized. Examples include orange slices, bananas, apples, carrots, peanut butter crackers/sandwiches, protein bars and/or trail mix/nuts.


  6. Dress accordingly. Wear lightweight, moisture-wicking, synthetic clothes (skip the cotton and go for wool) and comfortable socks and shoes/boots. Wear layers that you can add or shed as needed, and bring a light raincoat. On cold days, pack a hat and gloves. Don’t forget sunscreen, even on cloudy days.


  7. Stretch before and after your hike. Hiking works your entire body. Take time to stretch your muscles — it will help you recuperate more effectively. Move gradually and gently, breathe deeply and listen to your body. Let you doctor know if you have any pain.


  8. Take it all in. During your hike, take a moment to reflect on the things you’re grateful for, such as enjoying the scenery, being with loved ones, or connecting with nature. Focus on your five senses to promote feelings of calm and relaxation. Learn how to make the most of your hike.

This fall, we created a Healthy Driven Take a Hike! Challenge including fun, weekly hiking challenges and tips that you could use all year long. Learn about the Healthy Driven Take a Hike! Challenge.

The medically-based fitness centers and professional team of trainers and staff at Edward-Elmhurst Health and Fitness will help you reach your Healthy Driven goals. Learn more.

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