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How to Handle a Hike

By Brandi Goodman 

National Take a Hike Day arrives in November -- and for good reason. The activity offers both physical exercise and a release in endorphins that can boost your mental health. You can't just head out without some precautions, however. You need to learn how to handle a hike properly so you can make the most of the activity and ensure your well-being in the process.

Share Your Hiking Plans

It's really best that you go on a hike with a partner. Having someone there with you will ensure you have a person to help you out of a dangerous situation should it arise. If you still plan on going alone, then you need to share your hiking plans at the very least. Let one or more people know where you plan on going and let them know to check in by a certain time. If something should go wrong, then you know you have a person looking out for you. It can give you peace of mind.

Choose Solid Hiking Boots

A pair of heels or flats obviously won't suffice on a hike. Tennis shoes may be alright, but you really should have a solid pair of hiking boots that fit well to help make the most of the trip. Hiking boots offer good grip and should help you stay stable on your feet. The right size will help prevent you from tripping over your own feet. Never wear boots that are too large or too tight.

Stretch Well

You really need to stretch out your body well before you head out on a hike. A cramp can develop quickly or you can pull a muscle if your muscles and joints aren't stretched and ready to go. A few stretches and a quick walk will help to prepare you. 

Bring a Map and Compass

Don't rely on your phone's GPS navigation for your hike. You can use it while it's working, of course, but many phones will go out of service the deeper you go into the wilderness. Having an old fashioned map and compass will help you make your way out of there safely should you phone's signal drop.

Pack Water and Healthy Snacks

Never bring a coffee and junk food on a hike. Your body needs to stay fueled and hydrated. Water will be key for maintaining your hydration and keeping your joints flexible and working. Healthy snacks, such as granola bars, protein bars, trail mix, or even emergency meal pouches will be your best bet for providing your body with the nutrition and energy it needs to continue on the journey.

Whether you're waiting for National Take a Hike Day or want to go on an adventure now, always be sure you consider your well-being. Never head out on your own without any gear. You need the appropriate footwear, supplies, and help if you want to ensure a safe and healthy hike that truly benefits your mind and body.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Chula Vista, Calif.

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