According to the American Hiking Society, there have been countless studies that show that backpacking and hiking have a ton of health benefits (both mental and physical). This wonderful low-impact workout is a great way to explore new spaces, especially if you’re traveling to a brand new city. Some of the top benefits of hiking include:
- Hiking Can Increase Your Levels Of Fitness. Did you know that just one hour of hiking can burn up to 500 calories (depending on the incline, of course). If you’re carrying a hiking backpack there’s a good chance you’ll burn even more. This is wonderful news for people looking for a low-impact way to lose weight and get in shape. Hiking is also a great physical activity for the body because the trails tend to be easier on your joints.
- Control Diabetes. If you suffer from diabetes, hiking is a great way to control (and even prevent) this health issue. Walking outdoors has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in humans, which can help relieve some of your diabetic symptoms.
- Hiking Can Tone Your Entire Body. While there’s no one-size-fits-all workout regimine for people, hiking is a great way to get a full body workout. During a hike, you’ll experience difficult inclines and obstacles that you’ll have to maneuver around. Not only will you be working your hamstrings and legs, you’re challenging the strength and balance of your entire body.
- Curb Depression By Hitting The Trails. If you suffer from feelings of depression, hiking may be a great way to reduce your symptoms. Physical activity has been known to do wonders for mental health, and when you make a point to go outside and be active, you’re actually making the decision to improve your mental and physical health.
- It’s A Fun Social Activity. Looking for a way to get your spouse off of the couch and into nature? Ask them to go on a hike with you! Hiking with your significant other or friend can help you forge an even stronger bond.
Steps To Plan Your Upcoming Hike
Choosing A Trail For Your Fitness Level
If you’ve never gone hiking before, you may be tempted to go big or go home on your first adventure. We highly recommend avoiding this as it could lead to injury. When it comes to choosing a hiking trail, you’ll want to consider all of your options. Try to choose a trail that isn’t too long or too steep. The last thing you want is to start hiking only to feel tired and fatigued 20 minutes into the journey.
Check The Weather Forecast
The day before your hike, it’s important to check the weather forecast so there aren’t any unexpected surprises during your trip. This will give you insight on what to pack and wear, so you can be fully prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. If the weather is supposed to be sunny and warm, be sure to pack enough sunscreen to last the entire hike. The higher you climb, the closer to the sun you’ll get, which can be trouble for the fair-skinned hiker. On the other hand, if the weather is supposed to be overcast and rainy, be sure to pack a windbreaker or some kind of rain-resistant jacket, so you’re not shivering at the top of the mountain.
Bring The Right Hiking Backpack
Finding the right hiking backpack can be a real challenge, especially if you’re brand new to hiking. The first thing you’ll want to determine is how large of a backpack you need for your trip. Are you planning on taking a day hike? A weekend hike? Are you traveling with more than one person? These are all important questions to ask yourself when deciding what kind of backpack is best for you.
Don’t Forget Food
Whether you’re planning a day trip or an overnight backpacking trip, it’s important to prepare any meals and snacks ahead of time. You’ll want to pack for breakfast, lunch, dinner, as well as bring snacks to keep you energized in between meals. Some tips for your meal options are listed below.
- If you’re interested in bringing fresh food such as apples, carrots, or vegetables on your hike, keep the shelf life in mind. One of the luxuries you lose when you hit the trail is refrigeration, so don’t pack too much fresh produce; otherwise, it could go bad.
- If you plan on camping overnight during your hiking adventure, look for all-in-one meals for dinner. Many hikers will bring packaged noodles or rice on their trip as they are easy to pack and simple to prepare at a campsite.
- For your hiking snacks, pack high-calorie, high-protein items that you like to munch on during the day. This could be things like protein bars, energy bars, bagels, and dried fruit.
Find A Hiking Partner
Most hiking resources will tell you that it’s not recommended to hike alone (this is especially true if you’re new to the mountain). If you’re not totally confident that you can navigate a trail on your own, ask a friend or family member to join you. If you absolutely have to venture into the wilderness on your own, make sure you tell at least one friend where you are going and how long you should be there.
Wear The Right Apparel
The apparel you wear on your hike will have a tremendous impact on your trip. Instead of wearing your regular street clothes, we highly recommend bringing extra layers of clothing (preferably waterproof), so you’re prepared for any rain, snow, or sleet that comes your way. The shoes you wear are critical as well. The most important thing to remember is that you want your shoes to be comfortable and broken-in. Don’t wear a new pair of gym shoes on a hike unless you want
Hiking Etiquette To Remember
Did you know that there’s a code of ethics that all hikers should follow? It’s important to be considerate of other hikers during your journey, and it’s equally important to respect the land around you. Some hiking etiquette tips to remember are:
- When hiking downhill, always yield to uphill hikers on the trail.
- On wide trails, make sure you stay to the right. When passing, always give a heads up to the people in front of you.
- If you’re hiking with a dog, make sure to keep the dog on a leash at all times.
If you plan on traveling out of the Denver International Airport (DIA), park your vehicle with ParkDIA. We offer affordable airport parking rates and options to meet your needs and when you download our easy-to-use mobile app, you can reserve your parking space ahead of time.