The changing seasons make it so hard to resist going outside and taking in the fresh air. One of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors is hiking in a large forest or nature preserve.
Hiking also improves heart health, increases blood circulation, reduces arthritis, and strengthens bone density. In addition, physical activities like hiking help reduce inflammation and pain related to sore joints. The benefits also include mental health effects as well. Spending solitary time in nature helps decrease feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression; plus, it strengthens your sense of purpose when you are on your own adventure.
If you thought that hiking is too difficult for someone getting up there in age, think again. Most hikes are very relaxing and easily achievable for individuals of any age, but you have to start small.
If you try to climb the biggest hill you can find without any hiking experience, you might find yourself in a tough situation. All you have to do is walk along a bike path, nature trail, or wooded area, and before you know it, you’re hiking! Here are the top ten tips for hiking safely as you get older.
Whenever You Can, Hike With a Group
Hiking alone is a beautiful experience, but it becomes more necessary to hike in a group as you get older. In case of emergency, group members have each other’s backs, and they can reach out for help if an accident occurs.
When you hike by yourself, it allows you to free your mind and escape the pressures of the outside world, but group hikes allow for camaraderie to flourish. Hiking in a group has benefits that solo hikes do not, like the shared feeling of pride your group has when you reach the perfect viewpoint atop a hill. If you want to nourish your relationship with friends and family, going on a hike together can foster a stronger connection.
Check With Your Doctor Before Hiking
Regardless of the activity, check with your doctor before doing anything physical. Your doctor is an expert in their field, and they will be able to make the most informed medical decision on your behalf.
If your doctor advises against going on a particular hike, be sure to heed their advice. It could prevent you from injuring yourself on a hike, so don’t shrug off the doctor’s recommendation.
Make Sure You Are Ready Before Taking on a Tough Route
Once the doctor gives you their approval, work your way up to the hike if you haven’t been engaging in physical activity lately. Try walking around the neighborhood every day leading up to the trek, so your body is capable of performing with ease.
Be sure to stretch before each hike so you don’t pull a muscle. After getting acquainted with the more accessible trails, you can work your way up to a longer one, but you need to learn the basics first.
Enlist the Services of a Walking Stick
Walking sticks improve your balance, and they are essential for traversing difficult terrain. You can use a walking stick to support your weight when you feel like your balance is off.
Even if the trail is flat, walking sticks can still help you travel longer distances. The best part is, they are usually light enough to carry when you don’t feel like using them. Try looking for wooden walking canes to purchase for your hike to add a more natural touch.
Find the Perfect Trail for Peaceful Hikes
Getting into hiking can be an intimidating task, but if you find an easy enough trail to learn, you’ll reach your comfort level in no time. Locate a path near you that could work as a regular hiking spot so you can do it regularly. Try to find one with appropriate infrastructure such as benches and water fountains so you can sit down and rest when you need to take a break.
Check the Forecast Before Planning Your Time Outdoors
The worst feeling is when you are ready to go outside for some fun in the sun and start to feel a drizzle. To avoid this problem, look at the weather a few days before you plan on hiking, so you know what to expect. Then, when the day arrives, check the weather once more before leaving your home in case something unexpected arises.
Wear Appropriate Clothes for the Setting
It would be a shame to ruin your favorite clothes just because you wore the wrong ones for a hike. Following a weather check, wear the right clothes so that you aren’t too hot or cold. A few helpful items you might want to bring include sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, a hat, rain boots, or a light jacket.
The key to managing unpredictable weather is to dress in layers. That way, if things heat up, you can take off your layers, and once it starts to cool down, you can bundle right back up. Hiking boots are critical for protecting your feet, so wear something with arch support to prevent your feet from cramping up.
If Hiking Alone, Let Someone Know Where You’re Going
For solo journeys, an older adult should always tell a family member or friend where they intend to be in case of an emergency. Even if you’ve done the trail a thousand times, circumstances can change rapidly, so letting someone know your location beforehand could prevent a catastrophe.
Be very specific when describing where you will be, and give an indication of when your start and end times will be for your journey. If you don’t have it already, grab this person’s phone number so you can call them if you need help.
Keep an Emergency Pack on You at All Times
Whether you’re planning a quick hike or you want to fully immerse yourself in the wilderness, have an emergency kit on your person wherever you go. This kit should be light enough to carry easily and include snacks, water, a firestarter, and first-aid materials.
In addition, charge your cell phone fully before leaving your home so you can contact help if needed. Your phone will also include a GPS to help you if you get lost.
Stay Hydrated While You Hike
Dehydration can ruin your day if you are in the middle of a forest. Bring water with you whenever you go on a hike, so this never happens. Some trails have water fountains on-site but have a full water bottle handy just in case.
Just because you are entering your golden years doesn’t mean you have to start winding down physically. If you follow these ten tips for hiking safely as you get older, you can look forward to many years of outdoor enjoyment!