Once breakfast is over it's time to hit the trails. That involves lacing up the hiking boots, slapping a harness on Scooby, and hitting the road. Today's hike took us over two rivers, down a winding trail, and through a bit of forest where the autumn leaves were blowing. By the time we got home we were all relaxed and in a fabulous mood.
I'm telling you this because hiking is a wonderful form of cardiovascular exercise. Your body has to make continuous postural adjustments on a typical hiking trail. You also tend to walk longer which keeps that heart pumping. Best of all, it's something you can do with the entire family. Smaller children and dogs usually love walking in the woods. Even teenagers can slap on their headphones and trek along while the adults chat to each other. Jim and I have had some of our best talks while walking in the woods.
Hiking can even take on a spiritual quality for some people. Paying attention to the birds singing, the squirrels playing, the wind, the sunlight reflected on a stream....all of these things can be quite magical in the right frame of mind. I personally find that reconnecting with nature on a weekly basis keeps me calm and grounded. It also tones my heart muscle and my legs!!
If you think you might want to try hiking, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Dress appropriately for the weather.
- Layers work really well in case you get hot.
- Wear sunscreen year round.
- Wear supportive shoes or hiking boots. Trails often have little pebbles and rocks that hurt if you're wearing flimsy sandals.
- If you're hiking on icy trails, be careful and make sure you have good tread. You can even purchase ice cleats that hook to the bottom of your boots for added safety.
- Take along water for everyone (including the dogs) and snacks.
- Wear bug spray and check everyone for ticks after your hike.
- Don't go alone. If no one will go with you look into joining a hiking club.
- Carry identification, your cell phone, and even some mace in case you run across a dangerous animal or person.
- Always start your hikes slowly to allow the muscles to warm up.
- Always stretch after a hike, particularly your legs and lower back.
- Let go of your typical hang-ups and truly relax. My dog is a true boy and tears through any patch of mud or brambles that he can find. I am a neat freak but I just laugh and expect to dry him off when we get back to the car.
If you are looking for a fun cardiovascular activity to do with friends or family, hiking may be just the ticket. Happy trails!!!