Updated: Jul 6, 2018
All the time, I hear friends say “I would like to go hiking, but I don’t know how.” This is usually followed up by another friend saying, “How do you not know how? It’s just walking.”
Well, yes it is walking, but there’s a bit more to it if you ever want to venture out past your neighborhood park. So, if you’re just getting into this adventurous outdoor activity, here are a few tips that can help you get the most out of your hike:
Start slow and build up your hike: A short hike, close to home is best for beginners. Gradually work your way up to trails that are a bit longer or ones that include more difficult terrain.
Look to step it up: Uneven terrain works muscles all while improving balance and stability. Even small hills will intensify your workout and help burn those extra calories.
Pack a bag: Get a day pack for shorter trips or a larger one for multi-day hikes. If you’re just going for a short local hike, a hydration backpack might be the best option. It’s important to have everything you may need in case of emergency, including plenty of water, first aid pack, food, and a cell phone. This extra weight will also help strengthen your back muscles while you hike.
Make it a routine: Even on the days you can’t make it out to your favorite trails, power-walk around the nearest hilly terrain while carrying your pack. This will keep your muscles ready for your bigger hikes
Know the safety rules for hiking: At first, don’t hike alone, especially on unfamiliar or remote routes. A friend or group can help you navigate and assist you if you get injured or need help. As your skills improve, you’ll feel more comfortable going alone. When hiking solo, always remember to familiarize yourself with the trail map ahead of time and check the weather so you can pack the proper equipment. However, no matter how prepared you are, it is vital to always let someone know where and when you will be hiking. Never head out alone without first notifying a friend or family member as to where you will be and for how long.
For those that find the gym routine to be a little drab, hiking is a great alternative to hitting the treadmill. It’s not only a powerful cardio workout but includes a nice view, fresh air, and the sounds and smells of nature.
Or, you could always just go for a walk I suppose.
Check out these great hiking trails in Illinois:
Homer Lake Preserve
Kickapoo State Recreation Area
Starved Rock State Park
Fox Ridge State Park
Forest Glen Preserve
Lake Mingo Trail