Hiking guide and essentials

As it gets warmer outside, it is the perfect time to take advantage of outdoor sports again. One of the most popular outdoor sports is hiking. Hiking means walking long distances in nature, usually in hilly areas. Are you planning a hike? Make sure you're prepared to get the ultimate experience! Check out this blog to learn why hiking benefits your health, what you need during your hiking journey. 

Hiking can be a very demanding exercise, depending on the route and your physical condition. That's why it's crucial to equip yourself properly for the hike and to provide your body with the necessary tools.

What are the health benefits of hiking?

There are many health benefits of hiking, according to studies, as hiking provides a full-body exercise that benefits not only your physical health but also your mental health. In terms of physical benefits, it strengthens your lower body and can help build muscle. From a mental health perspective (3), walking improves psychological health through different pathways, one of them would be that it reduces stress by suppressing cortisol production. Cortisol is usually one of the main culprits in depression and anxiety. Other health benefits are:

1. Builds core strength  (1)

Walking improves your cardiovascular fitness, especially in hilly areas, where your heart works harder. Harvard Health reports that hiking naturally engages the core muscles of your torso. It strengthens your core by engaging your abdominal muscles and lower back muscles. These muscles work together to keep your spine stable and help you balance which might provide a long term health benefit.

You can use trekking sticks if you're having trouble with your balance. Our tip is to use a trekking stick with iron pins for more grip.

2. Stress-relieving (1)

There are several reasons why hiking decreases stress, anxiety, and depression. One reason is that hiking gets you out into nature, which has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind and body. 

3. Blood pressure (1)

Hiking decreases blood pressure because it is a form of aerobic exercise. When you hike, your heart rate increases and your blood vessels dilate, lowering your blood pressure. Hiking also impacts your blood sugar levels because it can be a strenuous activity that can cause your body to use up glycogen stores. When your glycogen stores are depleted, your blood sugar levels can drop.

4. Improved Sleep (1)

Hiking may improve sleep for several reasons. Being in nature reduces stress and improves mood which can lead to improved sleep quality.  Hiking may also regulate the body's circadian rhythm, leading to better sleep.

5. Weight management (1)

Hiking can decrease body weight as it has been shown that low intensity exercise like walking and hiking is the best form of exercise to burn fat.. While high intensity exercise usually burns less fat as it is dependent on sugar, hiking can help restart the metabolic pathways to burn fat more efficiently.

The Ten essentials hiking tips: 

1. Know your directions & safety (2)

Don't forget to bring your navigation! Nowadays, you can use your phone to find your way around, however signals can sometimes be dodgy. You can get a map and/or compass if you don't wish to use technology or if you know you will go through a place without signal. To ensure your safety, bring a hiking partner or tell your close friends you are going for a hike.

2. Protect yourself from the sun! (2)

Take sun protection with you if you plan to hike when the sun is out! It is essential to use sun protection during the day when you go for a hike because you are exposed to the sun for an extended period of time. This can lead to sunburn and skin damage.

There are a few ways to protect your skin from the sun:

- Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

- Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and hats.

- Stay in the shade as much as possible.

3. Be prepared for weather changes (2)

It could be possible that the weather changes fast. Make sure that you have clothing options when you go for a hike as it might suddenly start raining  

4. Bring good shoes (2)

Make sure you have proper hiking boots with you, this means picking shoes that support your ankles. Avoid wearing shoes you haven't walked in before, as these can cause blisters faster.

5. Fire (2)

There are many reasons to bring the tools to start a fire when hiking. A fire can provide warmth, light, and security. It can also be used to cook food or to signal for help.

6. Headlamp or flashlight (2)

Make sure you always have a headlamp or flashlight and don't forget to bring extra batteries. It can get dark during your hiking journey; and before you know it, you  might not be able to see anything! 

7. Oh, an accident. What now?  (2)

Accidents can happen anytime. Be prepared for such situations, especially when you cannot return home quickly. A first aid kit is essential in case of an emergency. Minor injuries and illnesses can be treated with this kit, which can also help prevent more severe problems. In an emergency, contact your local emergency number immediately.

8. Don't forget to drink water! (2)

Stay hydrated at all times. Always carry water mixed with electrolytes with you and make sure you drink enough. The water quality might not be as good at all places during your hike trip. Therefore, make sure you bring along a water bottle that has a filter in it.

9. Nutrition  (2)

It is essential to bring proper nutrition when you go for a hike because you need the energy to hike further,  Be sure to always have food, and some quick energy snacks such as protein bars, granola bars or energy gels.

10. Leatherman (2)

There are a few reasons for this: A Leatherman tool can come in handy during a hike, whether you need to cut something or open a can of food, and Leatherman is a reliable tool in case of an emergency.

Don't forget your warm up before you get going!

Warming up helps prepare your body for physical activity by gradually increasing your heart rate and blood flow. It also helps to loosen your muscles and joints,  as it reduces your risk of injury. Here is a video of how you can prepare before your hike! 



(1) https://health.clevelandclinic.org/9-benefits-of-hiking

(2) https://traildweller.com/hiking-safety-tips/

(3) https://news.stanford.edu/stories/2015/06/hiking-mental-health-063015