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Upgrade Your Hike

How many times has someone told you to “take a hike”? Chances are they weren’t concerned with your cardiovascular health. When it comes to getting healthy and spending time together as a family, going for a hike is a great option, and with  leaves beginning to change colors, and the long holiday weekend right around the corner, this is one of the best times of the year to take a hike.

Here are some ways that you can turn a hike into more than just a walk.

Places To Go
Depending upon where you live, you can find local parks, state parks, and national forests nearby to explore. You don’t have to travel long distances to find a great place to hike. If you can’t find an established area to hike, perhaps you know someone with several acres that will allow you to hike on their property. Remember to always ask for permission and to leave the property better than when you found it.

What to Take with You
Regardless of season or temperature, take plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. Carry a camera or notebook and capture the beauty of nature. It’s also advisable to bring a fully charged cell phone in case you need assistance (and if your cell phone has a camera, you can forgo your camera). Appropriate outerwear, especially rain gear, is also a good idea in case the weather turns on you.

Safety Concerns
No matter where you choose to go on your hike, it’s a good idea to bring along a first aid kit. It doesn’t have to be big, but should hold the basics. Plan out the route of your hike so you know what to expect as far as terrain is concerned. Let several people know when you will leave home, how long you plan to stay, and when you expect to return. It’s also wise to check in periodically if you plan to be gone all day or longer.

Nature Watch
Being outdoors in nature can be relaxing and full of wonder. Children will especially marvel at the sights and sounds if they have never been hiking before. Choose specific animals to find while on your hike. You may also want to try to identify the trees along the path. Rather than removing items from the hike, take along a camera to capture the them by photograph.

Bird Watching
Bird watching is an activity that enthusiasts around the world enjoy. Check a bird book out of the library or find similar information online. Some websites include bird call audio so that you can listen as well as watch for birds on your hike. Start with a list of birds you expect to see. Check them off as you find them and see if you can add any that aren’t on your list.

Scavenger Hunt
Children, as well as adults, love a scavenger hunt. Create a list of items to find while on a hike. The list can include things like red oak leaf, moss on a standing tree (look on the northern side), a heart-shaped rock, raccoon footprints, ferns, the major indigenous trees of the region, a bird’s nest, a bee hive, and more. Again, rather than removing some of these items from their habitat, carry a camera to keep track of the items that you find and leave them where you find them for others to enjoy.

A hike can be a relaxing stroll or a flurry of activity. Either way it’s a refreshing way to improve your health and your relationships.