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Take a Hike! Four Healthy Hiking Tips

As the weather cools down, it’s time to get out in the brisk air to enjoy all that nature has to offer.

But don’t limit yourself to walks around the block, challenge yourself and take a hike! Avid hiker Annie Parsons offers her top four tips to make your hike part of an active lifestyle.

1. You don’t have to head for the hills to make it a hike.

A hike is really just a long, steady walk. You can visit a national park or can hike around your own neighborhood. “I have a nine mile walking loop that I do in the summers, whenever it’s light enough after work,” Annie says. “It keeps me conditioned for longer hikes in the wilderness.” She hikes around neighborhoods and local lakes and, because she lives in Colorado, gets to the mountains whenever she can.

2. Proper fit is important.

“If you’re doing any more than five miles at a time, get properly fitted for shoes and a backpack (if you’re hiking with a backpack),” she says. Day-long or multi-day hikes require a well-fitted pack to ensure proper balance and prevent back, joint and muscle issues, and don’t forget to bring along plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

3. Food is fuel.

Long hikes mean your body is burning a lot of calories, so stay fueled with proper nutrition in mind. Annie’s favorite fuel? “Cheese and crackers, peanut butter and crackers, trail mix, nuts and fruits.

Keep track of calories and ask yourself, ‘How long has it been since I ate?’”  The Together CountsTM program promotes energy balance and keeping track of energy in and energy out, for setting you up for success, not just on your hike but for the rest of your family.

4. Take care of your body.

“Hiking can take a toll on knees, hips and backs,” Annie says. Stretch before you start hiking and pay attention to what your body is telling you during your hike. If you’re hiking in high altitudes, you may experience nausea, light-headedness and headaches. Build up to high altitudes, acclimate for a few days, stay hydrated and get a lot of sleep. At the end of strenuous hikes, Annie lays flat on her back and elevates her legs up against a wall at a 90 degree angle to help take the pressure off her joints.

“I wish everyone could get out and hike as much as I’m able to,” says Annie. No matter where you live, you can take Annie’s advice: “Walk as much as you can. Use your body, see things from a different perspective. You don’t need to climb a mountain. Get out at your own pace. Feel your legs work and enjoy whatever nature you can find.”

Lynne Morioka is a social engagement specialist at General Mills, based in Minneapolis, Minn. She writes for “A Taste of General Mills” and Channel G, and helps represent the company on various social media sites. She began her work with General Mills in 2012. See more from Lynne here.

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