Frugal Foodie Mama: Hiking for Health: How to Get Started

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hiking for Health: How to Get Started

Forget the notion that you have to be super outdoorsy or an athlete to enjoy hiking! Get my beginner tips for how you can start hiking for your health now...
Forget the notion that you have to be super outdoorsy or an athlete to enjoy hiking! Get my beginner tips for how you can start hiking for your health now.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Humana. As always, all opinions are my own. 
This post may contain affiliate links. Purchasing through them helps support this website.

If you have been following along with me on Instagram this past summer, you just may have noticed that I have a new passion in my life- hiking. The spark was actually lit last fall when my son & I took a little road trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to photograph the fall foliage. As we were walking around snapping pics, my son noticed a sign for the Maryland Heights Trail that takes you across the Potomac River and up to a cliff with breathtaking views of Harpers Ferry and the valleys below. He mentioned how awesome it would be if he & I did that hike together if only to capture the views from the top. So we started making plans, and in June of this summer we made the 4 mile round trip trek to Overlook Cliff. 

Being my first hike in years (like in almost 2 decades), I would be lying if I said it wasn't physically challenging. But despite the sore muscles I had the next day (and the day after that), the chance to connect with nature, to spend one-on-one time with my son, and the scenery I was rewarded with when I reached the top got me hooked. A few days after our June hike, we were already planning our next one...

Forget the notion that you have to be super outdoorsy or an athlete to enjoy hiking! Get my beginner tips for how you can start hiking for your health now.

You don't have to be in amazing shape or already be an avid outdoorsy person to get started with hiking. I know this for an absolute fact because I am neither. ;) I love nature and the views Mother Nature so generously provides us during each hike, but that is about as "outdoorsy" as this girl gets. 

So how can you get started? 
First & foremost, start researching nearby hiking trails and pick one! If you need to ease into it, choose a less strenuous hiking trail first. Look for one that is 2 miles or less round trip with very little elevation gain. You can always work your way up as you get stronger and more confident. I went all in with my first hike when I tackled the Maryland Heights Trail, but start at a level that you are comfortable with. Something easy enough that you are not discouraged, but something challenging enough that you feel a sense of accomplishment afterwards.
Forget the notion that you have to be super outdoorsy or an athlete to enjoy hiking! Get my beginner tips for how you can start hiking for your health now.

Once you have a few possible hiking trails narrowed down, grab a hiking buddy! Not only is having someone to hike with great for your motivation, but it is also important for safety reasons. No matter how easy or difficult a trail may be there is always the possibility of injury or an accident. 

Though motivation and safety are both very valid reasons to never go hiking alone, I think the most important reason to find a hiking partner is the bond you will make and the memories you will share with that person. Most trails have very spotty if any cell phone reception, so you are essentially unplugged spending time together with nothing but nature surrounding the both of you. It has been beyond amazing to have had these experiences with my son this past summer.
Forget the notion that you have to be super outdoorsy or an athlete to enjoy hiking! Get my beginner tips for how you can start hiking for your health now.
Photo Credit: Jake Bice Photography

Now that you know where you are going to hike and who is hiking with you, it is time to get properly equipped. For simple in and out day hikes, you will not need an expensive, fancy backpack. But I do suggest having some kind of a comfortable, lightweight backpack to carry all your essentials in. And which essentials will you definitely need? Water first and foremost, healthy snacks like trail mix or granola bars, a small first aid kit, antibacterial hand gel, sunscreen, an extra shirt (trust me- you will get sweaty), and I like to carry a Swiss army knife just in case. 

My son & I also always have our DSLR's and a small tripod (click here to see my son's favorite tripod for outdoor photography) in tow since photography is such a huge part of our hiking adventures. For more challenging terrain- steep inclines and rockier paths, it may also be helpful to have a walking pole with you. Most collapse down and easily attach to a backpack when you don't need to use them.
Forget the notion that you have to be super outdoorsy or an athlete to enjoy hiking! Get my beginner tips for how you can start hiking for your health now.

Comfort is key when hiking. Definitely invest in a good pair of lightweight hiking shoes. You can even get by with a nice pair of athletic shoes- just make sure that they have a good tread with deep grooves. Wear sweat-wicking clothing as much as possible, and dress in light layers if you will be hiking in cooler weather. You can always remove layers as the temperature gets warmer. 
Forget the notion that you have to be super outdoorsy or an athlete to enjoy hiking! Get my beginner tips for how you can start hiking for your health now.
Photo Credit: Jake Bice Photography

Now that I have given you some pointers on how to get started with hiking, let me tell you why I have been and will continue to hike for my health...
  • I am not a runner by any means. You won't find me running a 5K or marathon any time soon, but give me a good hiking trail and I am there. I love the constantly changing scenery, the sights and sounds of nature, the challenges of the trail. I may be not be an athlete, but hiking keeps me moving and gets me outside.
  • Hiking encourages me to unplug, if only for a few hours. Having that break from technology for a nice chunk of a hiking day does so much good for me. As a blogger, I feel like I am constantly connected and online. Hiking gives me permission to unplug and focus on the here and now and on what & who is in front of me and around me right then.
  • Having been a long time sufferer of anxiety, hiking gives my mind and heart a respite from the usual day-to-day. It is difficult to worry about the every day stuff and struggles while surrounded with such beauty. Standing 1000 feet above on a cliff has a way of putting everything into perspective. Suddenly my problems seem so much smaller against the backdrop of rolling mountaintops. 
  • I love the sense of accomplishment I get when I have made it to the top of a hiking trail and gaze out on the reward for my hard work- the amazing, breathtaking views. It is so empowering when I finish a trail to look back up at the cliffs and rocks that at the start of my hike looked so intimidating and say, "I did that. I was just there. Standing right there 1000 feet above this valley."
  • Hiking has also been an amazing way to maintain and even strengthen the already healthy relationship that I have with my son. Usually a kid's senior year of high school is when they start to pull away from their parents a little and assert more independence, but hiking has allowed us to become closer than we have ever been. We have those important (and not so important) talks while out hiking together that we wouldn't necessarily have the time for otherwise. That in and of itself is worth each & every step of a hike to me. :)
As part of the #StartWithHealthy campaign, Meredith is offering a giveaway of $5,000. Enter to win by posting a photo with #BHGHealthyContest on Instagram. 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Entrant must be a legal resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia who is age 21 or older. Promotion ends December 31, 2016. For official rules, visit www.BHGHealthyContest.com. Sweepstakes is sponsored by Meredith Corporation.

Don’t forget to follow Humana on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

Great things are ahead for you when your health is ready for them.

CLICK HERE to see which fun parties I am sharing this post at. 

No comments :

Post a Comment

I love hearing from you all! I read each and every comment & almost always respond if you are not a no-reply commenter. :) Please check your settings & make sure you have a public email connected to your account so I can connect with you better.