Fall is the perfect time to explore new hiking and trail running routes. Rather than focusing on improving running habits and achieving a new PR, hiking is much tamer and allows you to take time to enjoy nature and can even help reduce stress and increase brain power.
Many people don’t realize that hiking can be an activity fit for everyone and it’s easy to overlook the many benefits this form of exercise can have. Hiking not only builds muscles in your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings but also all of the muscles in your back, lower legs and hips. It strengthens the muscles in your core that help drive your upper and lower body.
Hiking gives you an opportunity to unplug and unwind and has proven to be a great factor in decreasing stress and anxiety. A Stanford study found that a 90 minute walk in a natural setting as opposed to a high-traffic urban area, decreased depression levels in the brain.
So you know that hiking can lead to a healthier life both physically and mentally but what if you’re brand new to the sport and don’t know where to start? Below are some tips to help ease you into the hiking game.
Finding a buddy
It’s important to find a hiking buddy to keep you motivated and to keep you company! Not to mention that it could be very dangerous to be hiking by yourself, especially if you’re traveling on a new route. If your friends aren’t into hiking there are always ways to find a new buddy:
- Ask your coworkers if they like to hike or if they have any friends that do.
- Join a hiking club at your local college or university.
- Check social media! Facebook is a great place to find hiking groups who live in your area.
- Research outdoor hiking associations such as the American Hiking Society or the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Make sure you have the right gear! If you’re just starting out and will most likely hike on mellow grounds, you will be fine in road-running shoes. As soon as you start to encounter rocks or mud, you should invest in proper trail-running shoes. Trail-running shoes or boots offer more traction, stability and protection than other shoes. It’s smart to do some research on which brands and types of shoes will be the best fit for you, before you plan your hike. After you decide on a pair of shoes, be sure to get a pair of our durable, water resistant boot laces – they come in Black, Tan and Camo.
Water is a must in any type of run or hike that you do. If you’re planning a longer run, you should consider investing in a large waistpack that holds plenty of water, food, extra clothing, first-aid kits and other tools that you may need along the way.
Your hiking clothes should be lightweight and made of moisture-wicking material so it’s easier to dry if you encounter any rain or water. Cotton materials take a very long time to dry which can result in chaffing and discomfort. Dressing in layers is the smartest approach if you’re planning a half-day or full day hike and don’t know how to anticipate the weather. It’s an easy way to be in control of your comfort.
There are plenty of ways to find new trails to explore – ask around your town, look up some helpful guidebooks and websites and check out local running club blogs. Check back on our blog for more information on how to stay safe this upcoming season.
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