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Published on May 01, 2018

mother and daughter hiking

#TryItTuesday: Trail Walking/Hiking

One of the easiest ways to get fit is choosing an activity you love. Trail walking/hiking is that for me. Whether it’s a quick walk through the trails at the Outdoor Campus, or a longer walk exploring the trails at Good Earth State Park or Newton Hills State Park, being out in nature offers many health benefits to my mind and body. Hiking is time for me to get one with myself.

With most of the local trails, I don’t need any specialized equipment or supplies. I merely lace up my shoes, grab my water bottle and my dogs, and off we go.

Trail walking is great for us beginners. We can set our own pace and distance, and alter our plans if our South Dakota weather doesn’t cooperate.

Hiking is considered a cardio workout that boasts some significant health benefits:

  • Hiking can lower your risk of heart disease, improves blood pressure and blood glucose levels
  • Hiking is also considered a weight-bearing exercise, which can often boost your bone density.
  • Hiking helps to build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs.
  • Hiking helps to strengthen your core, which helps to improve your balance.
  • Hiking can help control your weight.
  • And one of the best health benefits: Hiking is known to boost your mood. Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety.

An important step to getting started with trail walking/hiking:

Start slow. We started with our local trails, and now are gradually working up to trails with hills and uneven terrain.

Trail walking/hiking tips to keep in mind

  • Make sure you have sturdy sneakers with thick bottoms. As you gain experience and begin to take on more difficult trails, try a pair of hiking boots, and make sure they fit!
  • Carry all of your hiking supplies in a backpack.
  • Dress in layers and bring along a waterproof jacket with a hood in case you get caught in the rain.
  • Don’t forget a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • When you start hiking on more advanced trails, make sure you bring a map of the area you’ll be hiking in and a compass. You’ll also need to bring plenty of water and extra food, like sports bars or trail mix, in case you have to stay out late and get hungry.
  • Hike with a buddy.
  • Be sure to let someone know where you’ll be hiking and what time you’ll be back.
  • Bring lots of water even if you are only planning a short hike.
  • To prevent blisters, try spraying your feet with an antiperspirant before heading out. Bring extra pairs of socks that you can change into if your feet get wet or sweaty.
  • Protect yourself from bites and stings by using a bug repellant that includes DEET. Remember that stuff that smells good to you smells good to bugs too, so don’t use scented shampoos or lotions before hiking.
  • When it’s hot, pick trails that are shaded and run near streams. If you need to hike uphill in the sun, first soak yourself down to stay cool. You can also try wearing a wet bandana around your head or neck.
  • Keep yourself out of bad weather by checking forecasts before you hike and watching the skies once you’re out on the trail.

Now that we’ve been trail walking/hiking consistently the past few months, we want to step it up a notch and explore some of the longer trails offered in our beautiful state.

Visit https://gfp.sd.gov/hiking/ for South Dakota hiking trails information.

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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