As summer begins approaching, hiking can be a great low-impact workout to engage in, offering numerous physical and mental benefits. Walking is one of the lowest impact sports around, but with the increased variability that hiking provides, this adds increased difficulty, hence increased health benefits to the activity. According to the American Hiking Society (2013), and Healthy Families BC (2013), a few of the benefits hiking can provide include:
American Hiking Society (2013). Health benefits of hiking. Retrieved from http://www.americanhiking.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Heath-Benefits-of-Hiking-fact-sheet.pdf
Faktor, M. (2013). The health benefits of hiking. Retrieved from https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/blog/health-benefits-hiking
If you live in beautiful British Columbia or in any other place with mountains and forests, then hiking up to a stunning view of the city is simply inevitable. Regardless of the varying distances and level of difficulty for each location, it is always ideal to be prepared out in the nature. Here are a few tips to get you started and ready for your next big adventure!
Know the distance, duration, accessibility, and current conditions of the trail. A particular trail may not be open to the public or might be susceptible to more dangerous conditions during a certain time of the year. Some trails in the Pacific North West are covered with snow well into June-July. Reading reviews made by previous hikers is always helpful in getting first-hand information on what to expect, what equipment to bring, and how to navigate through a difficult trail. Check out https://www.vancouvertrails.com/ for all the details on different trails in in Vancouver, Whistler, and South Western British Columbia.
Creating a checklist on what to bring will help you remember to bring all the necessities for your trip, especially for beginners or those doing an overnight trip. Water is without a doubt the most important thing to pack. Make sure you have plenty of water and snacks to fuel you through out the hike. Wear proper shoe wear with good ankle support and clothing that will keep you warm and dry. Other important items are a first aid kit, sunscreen, spare clothing, a flashlight, and a map/compass. Avoid including non-essential items as there will be more load to carry. Check out https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hiking-boots.html to learn how to choose the best type of footwear for different types of hikes.
Pacing out your hike with even breaks in between remind you to drink water, eat snacks, and more importantly, stretch! Long, steep hikes can easily make the muscles tight which can commonly cause injuries to occur. Take a few minutes to stretch out your calves, quads, and hamstrings through out your trip. Check out http://fitlifepursuits.com/dynamic-stretches-for-hikers/ for 5 dynamic stretches you can do before you start your hike.
Going solo on a hike might not be the most ideal if it’s your first time going out, so being with a few others (4-5 people) may be a better option. Having others to rely on to help with navigation, difficult obstacles on the trail, and keep you mentally focused will provide for a successful and rewarding experience. Once you feel more confident, try hiking on your own! Challenge yourself mentally and physically by navigating through the rough terrain. Whether you go solo or in a group, make sure to set a comfortable pace for yourself and everyone with you. Always have a companion on the trail if there are some people going faster or slower.
There will be times where exhaustion hits your smack in the face or the conditions of the trail frustrate you, but trying to maintain a positive mental attitude will allow you to conquer the journey with a lot more ease. Remember to work as a team if you are in a group and to give yourself mental breaks through relaxing activities such as listening to music, taking photos, reading a book. Remind yourself of the long way that you have come and how rewarding the journey has been. Set realistic short-term and long-term goals for yourself before you start your hike, then revisit them at the end of your trip.