What precaustions should I take?
While hiking offers a multitude of benefits, there are also precautions to take. This is especially the case if you’re new to it as an activity, have not exercised in a long time or have muscular or joint problems.
1. Be realistic
As with any new form of exercise, don’t overestimate your capabilities. Start small and build up your distances or the type of terrain.
This way you’ll help to prevent injury and not be put off from the first try – enjoying yourself is one of the best ways to ensure you are more likely to stick at something, so try not to overwhelm yourself on the first go!
2. Set goals
To keep it challenging and give yourself something to work towards. Break things down into manageable chunks and remember to celebrate each time you go a bit further or a little rockier or for just making the time for yourself to get active, you deserve the recognition!
3. Plan your route
This is really important. Not only so you don’t spend valuable hiking time trying to navigate your way, but for your safety and so that you know you're undertaking a route suitable for your ability.
Maps are a great way to physically plan your route and you can take them with you (without relying on GPS!) to make sure you're going to right way.
4. Tell someone
If you’re going alone, make sure others know where you’re going. If you get lost or injured (and don’t get any service on the phone, you’ll no doubt take for emergencies) it’s vital someone knows where you are.
5. Take rest breaks
Hiking can be a rigorous form of exercise depending on your route choice, so making sure you take breaks is crucial – you don’t want to get halfway through and be absolutely exhausted!
But if you are really working up a sweat, do be cautious when taking off a rucksack, as the rapid cooling down could cause a chill.
6. Check the weather forecast
It may be fine when you set off, but the weather can change rapidly, making it potentially difficult to navigate and walking conditions more treacherous than you expected or were prepared for.
If you’re ready to go for a hike, there are a few things we recommend for your kit:
Hiking boots: be sure to break them in before you head off for hours, otherwise you won’t get too far! Sarah recommends to “start off small, on local and familiar terrain in order to break them in”. Having a good, sturdy pair of walking shoes is important for protecting your ankles and providing sufficient grip over varying terrains.
Water: Keeping hydrated is of the upmost importance with any exercise. Be sure to take plenty of water and a little extra, just in case you don’t quite follow the map as intended.
Appropriate clothing: make sure it’s comfortable to walk in, breathable and suitable for any weather. Pack a raincoat even if it’s due to be a sunny day – being caught in a downpour without a waterproof certainly won’t help with the mindful moments you’re looking for.
Sunscreen: because exercising outside means sun exposure. Don’t forget to apply before you go and top up if you’re on a longer hike or day out. For more information, read our article on the top tips for sun protection.
A phone: not to be on, but as a safety net if something does go a little pear-shaped.
High energy snacks: to keep your energy levels topped up as you go, and to have to refuel when enjoying the view.