Hiking for the health of it

Hiking is an excellent cardio activity, but be sure to take the proper precautions.

Fresh air, sounds of nature, beautiful sites are all packed into a hike. Hiking can provide a great form of physical activity and be beneficial in improving blood pressure and blood glucose levels, boost bone density and help to control weight. Hiking can even help to elevate your mood.

Whether you plan to hike for many days or just a few hours, have a plan. Know your physical capabilities, where your ending destination will be and where water is located. Always hike with a buddy, hike intelligently and stay on the trail.

Clothing plays an important role in a successful hike. Wearing hiking shoes or boots that fit well and are broken-in will help prevent blisters that may occur with new boots. Wear comfortable clothes that can help to protect from the trail and weather elements and use walking sticks to take some of the pressure off of your legs.

Packing food and water before your hike will ensure that you are set to be well hydrated and energized for a successful hike. Be sure to eat a hearty and healthy breakfast before leaving on your hike. Stop every hour for a drink of water or sport drink (about one quart for every 30 minutes). Eating salty snacks is recommended for a hike longer than 30 minutes. Pack foods such as jerky, dried fruits, nuts, crackers, pretzels and tuna packs for hearty energy. It is recommended that you eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty, according the National Park Service.

Hiking can be strenuous, start conservatively and be kind to yourself, knowing your limitations. Walk so that you can talk at the same time. This is one way to ensure that your legs are getting enough oxygen to function properly. Take a break every hour to help rid your legs of metabolic waste build-up and recharge your energy.

Visit the Michigan State University Extension website at www.msue.msu.edu for more information of healthy lifestyle choices. Below is a healthy recipe to make and take with you on your next hike.

Chocolate covered almonds

From: Super Healthy kids

1 pound almonds (raw or roasted)

1 egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder


  1. Mix egg white and vanilla with a mixer until frothy. Dump one pound of nuts into egg whites and mix until coated.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and cocoa powder. Dump sugar and cocoa powder into egg white/almond mixture and stir to combine.

Pour almonds onto cookie sheet (sprayed with cooking spray). Cook almonds in oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, taking out to mix every 15 minutes.

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