Walking the same route around the same neighborhood every day can be boring. You could always spice up your workout by choosing a different neighborhood, but how long will that excitement last?
If you truly want to take your workouts to new heights, try hiking. Hiking doesn’t necessarily mean backpacking up a mountain while braving harsh weather conditions. Many wooded regions have marked walking trails that cater to every skill level.
Your local, state or city parks and recreation department can provide you with information about the intensity and environmental dangers (ticks, poison oak and so on) of nearby trails. Some areas require a hiking pass, so call before you head out.
For the first couple of outings, pick a close, short hike. This will get you used to walking on something other than pavement. If you try a variety of trails, you’ll notice that some are flat while others can have pretty intense inclines. Remember to start slow and work up to more difficult trails.
Hiking is a great way to turn your exercise time into family time. Many hikes are kid friendly and give children the chance to test their nature knowledge while getting some fresh air. Just make sure the kids are always within your sight because trail terrain can get dangerous for unsupervised children.
Make sure you bring plenty of water with you—1/2 liter per person per hour. If you are going on a hike that will last more than an hour, bring some food with you; trail mix, oranges and energy bars travel well. If the hike will last several hours, pack a sandwich as fuel.
Other carry-along items include:
- a trail map
- a compass
- a small first-aid kit (bandages, an ace bandage and a splint for sprains and fractures)
- extra clothes
- rain gear
When you are unsure of the weather, dress in layers. An inner layer will keep in the heat and absorb perspiration while the outer layer provides shelter from the elements. (Remember, the higher the elevation, the more unpredictable the weather.) Depending on the terrain, you may need hiking boots. Make sure yours provide plenty of toe room and good traction.