Nonprofit weight-loss organization suggests hiking for healthy lifestyle

Fitness is often a common topic of conversation for many– getting fit, staying fit, and everything in between. Many people are also concerned with watching their personal budget, as well as their waistline. Consider hiking, says TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization.
In addition to being fun and easy on the wallet, almost everybody can do it, whether it’s simply utilizing community park trails, meandering foothills, or exploring rugged backcountry, there is a trail or program available for each individual’s own unique needs. A great calorie burner, hiking requires little equipment and can be as physically demanding as we choose to make it. Implement the following tips for an effective, enjoyable, and safe trek through nature.
Those who have never hiked before or who are out of shape will want to start out slowly to get the body in condition for hiking. As with any new activity, it’s important to check with a physician first and discuss goals. Before trekking, hikers should begin a consistent fitness routine to ensure that their bodies are ready for such a strenuous activity.
Start by walking around the neighborhood, and then increase the distance gradually to build stamina. Carry a small pack to help back and shoulders get used to carrying one when out on the trail. Also consider using cardio-based equipment, such as stair-steppers, elliptical trainers, and rowing or climbing machines, to strengthen leg muscles. Incorporate weight training to improve core body and abdominal strength.
While a basic walking shoe may work for those neighborhood walks, unpaved trails require a sturdier shoe, with good arch support and a heavy sole. A good pair of hiking boots will help with stability and shock absorption, and a boot that has waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex membranes help to keep feet dry. As with any boot, a break-in period is strongly recommended.
Good socks are also key. Choose wool or synthetic over cotton because when cotton gets wet, it stays wet. A mid-weight hiking sock with good cushioning supports the arch. Wear a thin cycling or nylon sock under a hiking sock as a first layer to help prevent blisters, and consider bringing along a second pair to change into halfway through the hike.
Be prepared for anything, including temperature variations, insects, sun, and rain, by dressing in lightweight layers. The first layer of shirts and pants, next to the skin, should be synthetic to keep moisture from the body. The second layer for insulation should relate to the outdoor temperature. If the weather is very cold, then a heavier fleece or liner makes sense. The third layer should be a weather-resistant shell which acts as a windbreaker or rain shield. In addition to sunglasses, hats with brims protect the face from sun, keep hikers cool, and also help shield the eyes. Wear sunscreen on bright and cloudy days.
For more hiking tips, or to find a nearby TOPS meeting, visit or call (800) 932-8677.

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