There are two things that usually come up on my mind when spring comes in town – where are my hiking shoes and bag, and where should I go first. Yes, it’s time for hiking.
When spring comes I can strongly confirm that really everything becomes alive. We become alive and have more energy. We want to move out, to be outside instead sitting on the sofa or staying late at the office. Yeah, we might hate our job when spring arrives.
However, while we say goodbye to the winter days, we all face the challenge to be more physically active. Probably we gained some extra weight and usually, this is the period when we want to change something and start shaping our body.
There are a lot of options to get physically active – many sports, running, gym or maybe hiking. After 15 years of actively playing soccer and after some injuries and three surgeries, hiking and martial arts are my option to get physically active. Of course, swimming too but where I live it’s expensive and there is a lack of facilities.
How to start – Beginner’s level
First of all, if you already don’t have you should buy some good hiking shoes and hiking bag. Sneakers are ok if you walk a flat road, but for walking the mountain trails you’ll need some good quality hiking shoes.
The easiest way to start hiking is joining someone who already does it. It can be with your friends or maybe you know some local hiking club or initiative. This way, not only you’ll get an experienced guidance, but most important you’ll be able to cultivate and keep your passion for hiking.
It’s one thing to visit some organized online video seminars and completely different to walk the way and get familiar at first hand with all the necessary information about hiking. We experience life, we cannot learn about it staying locked in our heads.
On the other hand, you can start hiking by visiting some local, familiar hills or smaller mountains around your city. Or walk by the river or lake or your city parks.
As a beginner, you should never walk alone, just in case if there is some accident or something unpredictable happens an extra man will surely make things easier.
Besides hiking shoes, you should be aware of you physical condition and how well can you handle long walks. If you are not in good physical condition, if you don’t do any sports and maybe have some extra weight, it is recommended that at least four weeks before hiking you should practice every day walks on longer distances.
If you have some health conditions like heart problems or joint troubles you must consult your doctor. The rules are not the same for those who are over 50. And be careful and try not to fall for the jokes or provocations of your buddies and do something stupid by proving that “you can do it”.
If you are in good shape, then you shouldn’t be bothered with the road distance or the difficulty level. What you should do is consult with you hiking buddies what you should take regarding clothes, food, equipment etc.
Get familiar with the hiking route and the weather conditions. It’s good to plan your trip. You should know where you go and the forest or mountain rules that everyone should stick to – such as do not light fire, or do not pick protected plants and flowers, don’t throw garbage etc.
Food and hiking
Well, as for every sport or physical activity, you should avoid heavy meals before hiking. Eat at least two (in my case three) hours before starting. If you are going early in the morning than your dinner should be abundant as your lunch. And for the road, you should take simple carbohydrates such as black chocolate, banana, dried fruits. Eat you protein food after you come back.
Depending on the site you are visiting and the year period maybe you’ll be able to literary pick up your meal on the road because there are many wild fruits and nuts on the way.
And do not, by any chance and because you are too excited for your new adventure, forget to take water.
As I mentioned before hiking shoes is a must. If at the beginning you don’t have specially designed hiking clothes than you can take some comfortable sport clothes, cotton or fiber made. It’s important that your clothes will not limit your movements.
Multilayer clothes are better. For instance, you can take two thinner pullovers instead of some massive sweater. Take some extra shirts to switch later.
Besides the usual clothes, it’s very important to have a waterproof jacket that is wide enough so you can put it over you hiking bag.
Why is important to have proper hiking shoes? The answer is safety! This kind of shoes are designed to be comfortable as much as possible so they will protect your feet and joints, and respond well in overcoming any unpleasant hiking route.
If you don’t have hiking shoes I recommend that you buy your first one in a professional store. Don’t buy it online because this kind of shoes is specific and you should find what fits you the best. Look for them in hiking stores and ask for some professional advice from the sellers. You will need to purchase specially designed hiking socks as well so you would not face the most common long- road-side effects – blisters J
If you are hiking in higher areas, which are usually open space than it is obligatory to have appropriate sun protection. The sun on the mountains is much stronger so beside sunglasses take some UV sun protection clothes such as hat or hood.
Your hiking bag doesn’t have to be huge. It can be a middle size and anatomic if possible. Besides your food and clothes, you should fill your hiking bag with first aid materials, UV sun protection oil, insect bite creams, and some headache and temperature pills.
Last but not least don’t forget to take your map, light battery and knife.
Why is hiking good – Hiking benefits
First of all, as any other sport, hiking is good for improving your overall health condition (considering that you don’t suffer from some diseases or conditions that tag your bones, joints or muscle tissues; with other words – if you can normally walk).
Hiking improves your immunity, clears your lungs and strengthens your muscles. It decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and improves the blood pressure and helps in regulation of the blood sugar level.
Hiking is great exercise that involves a significant amount of your body muscles which provides more calories burning. It improves your body coordination and weight control.
One of my favorite benefits is stress relief. While hiking you are joined with nature and while witnessing all that beauty is simply impossible to be nervous and let the everyday pressure to still have an influence on you.
Pure air and beautiful colorful sites are things aI long for while I’m trapped between the office walls or staying home after late work.
The social aspect of hiking is another positive thing. You will meet new people and maybe get some new friends. Very strong friendships were born while hiking because while you are there in the wild the person beside you is the one you can rely on.
Hiking can get you to places that you only see on some travel TV channel. Yes, it can increase your passion and wish to travel and visit many famous places around the world.
Some studies show that spending more time in nature (and that includes hiking) can significantly improve your solving problems abilities because it improves your creativity.
If we approach from a philosophical and spiritual point of view, we can say that hiking can be a road to self-realization and knowing nature in its original way of existing.
Hiking is the adventure you’ve been waiting all this time.
Do you agree?