Take a hike for better health! #Fitness Friday

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Last weekend I went camping and hiking with my family and boy am I feeling it this week! We chose to go primitive camping so that meant everything had to be hiked into our campsite. EVERYTHING! Thankfully the campsite we chose was only a one mile hike into the woods because water and firewood are unbelievably heavy! Add in the food and all the other assorted gear necessary for 4 people to survive a few days in the woods and I was ready to just set up the tents in the middle of the trail if it meant I could get that pack off my back!

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We chose to go to Cloudland Canyon State Park which is only a few hours away from us and has some amazing hiking trails. Once we set up camp we headed back out to civilization to find some trails to hike. Our hiking experience over the entire weekend included trails that followed the rocky rim high up on the mountain and a grueling trip down to the bottom of the canyon to see the base of 2 waterfalls. The hardest part of the whole trip was getting from the bottom of the waterfalls back up to our campsite! The park straddles a deep gorge cut into the mountain by Sitton Gulch Creek, and the elevation differs from 800 at the base to 1,980 feet up on the rim.
The view from the top
Hiking is great for your health! Just getting into the woods and away from civilization for a few days really help get my mind refocused. Here are just a few of the health tips I came across:
  • Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise, which helps prevent osteoporosis.
  • Being out in the sunshine provides the body with vitamin D.
  • It is great for cardiovascular health because it is a form of aerobic activity
  • Hiking can help you manage your weight, thus reducing your chance of type 2 diabetes
  • Hiking offers psychological benefits as well and helps promote relaxation and mental well being
  • Hiking and walking are good ways to decrease your cholesterol levels. You increase the ‘good’ cholesterol which helps get rid of the bad cholesterol.
  • Endorphins and adrenaline are released when you  hike and this helps reduce your stress levels.
  • Hiking improves respiratory health and muscular fitness.
And personally, I would much rather hike a trail than run in place on a treadmill!
 The view from the bottom
Don’t just run out and tackle a mountain without a little bit of practice first or you won’t enjoy yourself! Strap on those hiking shoes and tackle your neighborhood streets or a local park first, then work your way up to hiking higher elevations.
Don’t forget to bring the proper gear when you head out. A day pack with water, snacks, emergency supplies, first aid kit,  and a map is a definite requirement! Make sure you have on sturdy hiking shoes, sunscreen and/or bug spray, and take your cell phone along in case of emergency. Always tell someone where you are going and you really shouldn’t hike alone. The buddy system is a great way to stay safe on the trail! Check out the American Hiking Association for more great trail information.
Today’s science lesson:  Animals and Camouflage!
And don’t forget that the motto on the trail should be ‘Leave No Trace‘! The only thing you take are pictures and all you leave behind are footprints.
If you want to try a little primitive camping for yourself, check out the Wilderness Camping Guide! You can also check out these Tips and Tricks for getting your kids to enjoy the great outdoors!

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