Hiking for Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle
Anytime is the perfect time to go for a hike. But, as temperatures start to cool and leaves begin to turn we are especially in the mood for a day of hiking! Hiking is a wonderful way to commune with nature and be in the moment. Worries and distractions fall away as we take in the sights, scents and sounds all around us. A cacophony of bird songs, the crunch of leaves and twigs underfoot, waterfalls, and breathtaking panoramic views are just a few of the gifts that nature gives us when we pay attention.
In addition to hiking on the weekends, why not try enjoying this healthy activity during the week? Setting out in the afternoon, just after work, is an excellent way to get our bodies moving after sitting in front of a computer all day. It can make us feel centered and energized, instead of exhausted. It gets us in the mood to eat light and healthy foods for dinner, instead of craving sugary pick-me-ups and heavy comfort foods.
Hiking is a perfect family activity. And guess what? It often doesn’t cost a thing. Kids get excited about going for a hike, especially after they’ve done it a few times. They love when parents show that they want to share quality time with them. They’ll especially have fun if you take pictures of them enjoying themselves on the path and at the top of the mountain.
There are hikes suited to every level of fitness. Choose a terrain and mileage that best fits your needs. Wildlife sanctuaries and reservoirs have easy flat trails that are great for anyone just starting out. Or explore some local, small to large mountain trails for a more challenging hike. After plenty of training, you can even set out for multiple days on a backpacking trip. Choose hiking as one of the activities to include in your plans when traveling, especially if you are visiting state and national parks. There are beautiful places to hike all across the country, in any climate. Most states have an on-line resource for finding good places to hike.
Hiking will keep you fit. You’ll get some heart health benefits through lowering your stress and anxiety levels, as well as through aerobic exercise if you are hiking at a brisk pace. Moderate hiking will improve your core strength and balance.
If you are just starting an exercise program, start out slow with easy hikes. Increase the challenge of your hikes as your strength, balance and endurance improves. Try using hiking poles if you need a little balance reinforcement. You’ll actually get more of a cardio workout and strengthen your arms when using the poles. Some avid hikers move into trail running for an even more intense workout. If you are a road runner, you might enjoy running the trails for a change of scenery and terrain.
Having the right footwear is important. Stop by Backcountry.com to learn about how to pick out hiking shoes.
Hikesafe.com is a good place to go to learn about trail safety.
Once you establish a weekly hiking routine, why not invite a group of friends to join you? Hiking is a great social activity, and packing a picnic lunch to enjoy with a breathtaking view makes any day memorable.