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Hiking safety tips

Use these hiking safety tips to make the most out of your fall hiking trip.

For some, the thought of clocking time on a treadmill, repeating loops around a track, or passing through the same neighborhood time and time again is monotonous and boring. Are you in need of a change? This fall is a perfect time to switch up your exercise routine. Map out trails near your home and create a checklist of hikes you want to tackle before the year is over. Not only will you experience new sites and adventures, you will also get a great cardiovascular workout in the process. But before you start, make sure you are prepared.

How to choose the best hiking shoes

Michael Bednarz, DPM, FACFAS, a podiatric surgeon at Piedmont, recommends getting fitted for proper hiking boots.

“Footwear is extremely important for avoiding injuries,” he says. “I always recommend either a high top or 3/4 top to limit the chance of a sprained ankle. Also, ankle supports are a wise choice for individuals who have weak ankles.”

Dr. Bednarz also recommends wool-blend socks to wick away moisture and keep feet as dry as possible. But blisters are often inevitable.

“Blisters happen, so it’s smart to pack [a liquid bandage product] to cover a blister while in the middle of a hike. If there is an area that frequently gets blisters, moleskin works great at prevention.”

Other hiking tips to maximize performance and enjoyment

  • Take plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is key to optimum body performance.
  • Pack refueling foods like nuts, granola, jerky, dried fruit or peanut butter crackers. You may need a boost to make it down the mountain and prevent low blood sugar.
  • If you are not a seasoned hiker, start slowly with a path that has fewer hills. Like any exercise, gradually build up to a challenge.
  • Use the buddy system. Always hike with a companion or group. However, if you go solo, be sure to tell friends or family where you are hiking, and pick a well-populated trail.
  • Plan for emergencies. Keep a mini first aid kit and cell phone with you.
  • Wear clothing that protects your body from thorns, sun exposure, and insects. Don’t forget a hat, sunscreen and bug spray as well.
  • Check the weather forecast before you head out. You don’t want to get stuck in an unexpected thunderstorm.

For more exercise tips, visit Living Better’s fitness page

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