Take a hike

Hiking boot and walking stick

I have this strange fear I’m going to be that person on the evening news.

Dehydrated.
Red-faced.
Being carried off a mountain by emergency crews after an unprepared hike.

I love to hike, and have done quite a bit of it over the years; however it’s not something I prepare for much beyond carrying a water bottle and wearing sneakers.

But is that good enough?

Jennifer Willis, MD, a family medicine physician at Banner Health Center in Verrado, encourages more preparation to ensure a safe and healthy hike. Her top tips:

• Go with a friend
• Wear good shoes made for trails- hiking or trail running
• Wear a hat and light colored clothing
• Know the area, go with someone that does or have a map or navigation available
• Stay on the trails
• Keep eye open for wildlife

The most common hiking injuries – sprained ankles, dehydration and cuts and scrapes – can often be prevented by heeding that advice.

I may live in the desert, but I’ve hiked in all kinds of environments and elevations, so I know understanding how much water to pack can be tricky. Dr. Willis said how much water you carry depends on the length of the hike and the weather, but that it’s always good to bring more then you think you will need in case of an emergency. Her pro tip: lightweight backpacks that contain a bladder, such as a Camelback, to carry water so you can easily drink while hiking. It’s a smart idea for the novice hiker so you’re hands-free.

So with all of this preparation, I’m ready for a successful, emergency-free experience. And while having free fun outdoors, I’m getting health benefits too – which I love!

“Hiking is a great aerobic exercise with the benefits of built in hills and elevation changes that work most of the large muscle groups in legs,” Dr. Willis said. “You can set your own pace so it is great for any fitness level and also helps with balance and coordination.”

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