Hiking has become a very popular way to improve overall health and enjoy the great outdoors, and it’s easy to maintain social distance! Here in Vermont, there are endless options ranging from easy strolls in the woods to half or full day more strenuous hikes.

Hiking is a great workout option and the rewards are endless but can include: decreased stress, improved mood and well-being, reduced risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure, improved bone density, improved weight control, and connecting oneself with nature, friends, and family.

Keep these 10 things in mind when starting to hike:

  1. Research the area and trail before you head out. Make sure it matches your current level of fitness and capability. There are many apps, books, trail guides, websites, and social media groups available for reference.
  2. Hike with a friend. Hiking with a partner is a safe and fun way to stay connected to each other and it is easy to maintain social distance. Having a partner with you will be helpful in case any injury or emergency occurs. Always carry your cell phone as well.
  3. Warm up with dynamic full body motions and stretches especially for the hips, trunk, arms, and legs.
  4. Pack enough water and light snacks to carry with you in a backpack. Drink before you get thirsty to prevent dehydration and plan to drink between ½ to one quart of water per hour of hiking.
  5. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to get back. This is always a good idea in case you get lost or need assistance.
  6. Consider using hiking/trekking poles to help reduce the strain on your knees and to help with balance if needed. Poles can make a big difference in reducing pain and stress to your joints.
  7. Dress according to the weather. Pack extra layers as needed. Make sure to plan for rain, cooler temperatures, and bring bug spray, sun screen, and sunglasses.
  8. Know your limits. Elevation gain, heat, humidity, and the types of trail (a lot of rocks and roots) can affect your tolerance to hiking. Know your capability and plan accordingly. Listen to your body.
  9. Wear good hiking shoes or boots. Do not go out for long hikes with brand new shoes. Make sure you choose the correct shoe for your needs (waterproof, cushion, support, stability, breathability, weight, grip). When buying shoes make sure to try them on and wear the socks you plan to hike in.
  10.  Have fun! Take your time, breathe in the fresh air, listen to the sounds of the forest, and enjoy your surroundings. We are lucky to live here in Vermont!