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Posted in Healthy Living | November 2013

Take a hike!

According to The Public Health Agency of Canada, physical activity plays an important role in your health, well-being and quality of life. Along with giving you energy, decreasing stress and promoting healthy growth and development, regular exercise can help prevent chronic diseases like cancer, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

If you’ve been thinking about getting a little more physically active, why not start on National Take a Hike Day. You don’t have to tackle a rocky mountain trail or a dense forest path right away, even a stroll through your neighborhood or local park is a great way to get yourself—and your family—moving.

But if the call of the wild lures you beyond the sidewalks of your community and into slightly rougher terrain, we have a few things you might want to keep in mind.

  • Wear proper footwear. According to the Washington Trails Association, hiking boots are a good choice because they support your feet and ankles while you’re navigating uneven terrain. Of course the kind of hiking you plan to do will also dictate what shoes you should purchase, and a salesperson at a reputable outdoor or shoe store should be able to steer you in the right direction.
  • Wear proper clothing. Obviously this depends on the climate where you live, but remember to wear clothes that wick away moisture (like wool and specially designed synthetic fabrics). Cotton tends to hold onto moisture so you can end up getting damp and uncomfortable as you hike. Wearing layers that you can remove and put back on as you heat up and cool off is also smart idea.
  • Don’t forget your hat! Most of our body heat is lost through the head, so if it’s chilly in your neck of the woods, bring a warm hat. If it’s warm and sunny, wear a light cap to keep the sun off your head and neck.
  • Don’t hike alone. There’s safety—and fun—in numbers! If you do venture off on your own, make sure someone knows exactly where you went and when you plan to return.
  • Bring food and water. If you’re just strolling your neighborhood you probably don’t need a snack, but if you plan on hiking any distance, bringing sustenance is important—especially if the weather is warm and you’ll be losing a lot of fluid through perspiration. Choose snacks that will give you energy—like power bars or trail mix with nuts, raisins and seeds—and pack lots of extra water.
  • Bring a map. Stay safe and hike on pre-mapped, marked trails in conservation areas and parks, but bring a map and a compass just in case you get turned around and need a little help finding your way home.
  • Pack a first aid kit. If you’re careful, chances are you’ll be just fine, but accidents happen, so make sure to tuck away some first aid essentials in your backpack.
  • Carry a whistle. If you get separated from your hiking partner or run into any trouble, a whistle is a great way to attract attention and be heard by other hikers in the area.

Visit Hike Safe for more information on hiking, including resources for parents and kids.

410343 CAN/US (04/15)


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