Pressing on six months of a lockdown, the need for physical activity and mental solitude couldn’t be greater. With better weather finally here (not counting the appearance of snow this past Friday!), it is finally time to get outdoors, and allow nature to help heal our souls.
Hiking is a great activity, it not only provides physical exercise, but also offers a great way to unwind, and calm our nervous system. Trekking on uneven surfaces, and taking on challenging hills, can offer a great cardio-intensive workout. It can also help strengthen our back, leg and core muscles that we have neglected during the course of the pandemic.
It is no secret that being out in nature can help calm the body and the mind. With rates of depression, anxiety and stress reaching all time highs, being out in nature can be the medicine that we can all take advantage of.
Here are a few tips to help you start hiking:
- Start With Neighborhood Walking: If you haven’t hiked in a while, try walking 20 to 30 minutes around your neighborhood at a brisk pace. If you can not accomplish 30 minutes, start with a five minute walk, and increase your intervals when ready.
- Stay Hydrated: Ensure you are hydrated well before starting your hike, and take a water bottle with you when on the trails. If you plan to be out for longer than an hour, consider a wearable water pack such as this one.
- Choose A Well Marked Tail: Most trails in regional and provincial parks are well marked and are easy to navigate. However it is important to bring bring along a map. You can also use this high-rated app, that has a library of the best trails in Ontario. Do keep in mind that cell-phone reception may be inadequate in some areas; if you plan on using your phone, try downloading the maps locally to use offline when required.
- Wear Good Shoes: Invest in a pair of comfortable hiking shoes (preferably waterproof). If you have foot pain or sore feet, consider custom foot orthotics, or book a free pain consultation.
- Protect Against Ticks: Wear long sleeves and long pants. Use insect repellent when necessary. It may also be a good idea to review what to do if you are bitten by a tick, which can be found here.
- Apply Sunscreen: Being outside for extended periods of time, even on a cloudy day can cause sunburns. Always wear sunscreen with at least 30SPF that blocks both types of ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB). Apply sunscreen about 20 minutes before your hike, and every 2 hours thereafter.
If you are new to hiking, I would recommend the following trails located in the Halton Region. They are easy to access, and offer great, well-marked trails:
For more information, and to book please visit the Halton Conservation Website