Hiking for BeginnersMay 27, 2013
From panoramic mountaintop views, to beautiful coastal waters, hiking lets you explore Canada’s magnificent scenery. It’s great to wander off alone for some downtime or it can be a wonderful family activity.
How to get the most out of hiking:
- Footwear – Ensure that you have hiking boots or shoes that are of good quality and that are comfortable. If you happen to cross an unbridged stream, water shoes are recommended.
- Apparel – If you are hiking in warm weather, synthetic materials are a good idea – avoid cotton which absorbs sweat. Try to avoid wearing shorts since some parts of a trail may be overgrown. For cooler weather, ensure you are wearing proper clothing to avoid hypothermia or frostbite.
- Choosing a trail – Be realistic about your capabilities. If you end up picking a hike that is too long or difficult you will not have an enjoyable experience. For beginners, it’s recommended that you start with a hike that’s a few kilometers in length and work up from there.
- Food – For longer hikes, you may need to pack a lunch. Always carry enough water, especially on warmer days or difficult trails where your body is working harder.
- Other equipment – Daypacks are great for carrying, food, fluid, first aid kits, or extra clothes (socks or waterproof jacket) that you may need on the trail.
- Health – Hiking doesn’t just offer up lovely scenery, it is excellent for cardio-respiratory fitness, muscle strength, stress relief, and can help you sleep better.
- Be aware of the weather forecast. Hiking in the ice and snow can be fun but it presents several potential dangers.
- Learn which animals live in the area and be prepared to take action if you meet up with one on the trail.
- Remember to tell someone where you are headed and your approximate return if you decide to explore a trail alone.
Three Great Trails to try in Canada:
- West Coast Trail, BC – While this trail has the reputation for being one of the most physically challenging treks in North America, the old growth forests and beautiful craggy coastline make it worthwhile.
- The Bruce Trail, ON – Within its 885 km length, the Bruce Trail appeals to hikers of all abilities and offers up many opportunities for exploration.
- East Coast Trail, NL – Offers up 265 km of developed trail and 275 of undeveloped trail that includes coastline views, complete with lighthouses, whale watching, caribou, and a 50-metre suspension bridge.
While hiking is a great activity for improving your health and well-being, it is also a great way to explore the area and country in which you live. We are fortunate that Canada has an abundance of wilderness trails that people of any age or ability can enjoy, so get outside and start exploring!
References from the SIRC Collection:
1. DUNCAN M, LYONS M. THE EFFECT OF HIKING POLES ON OXYGEN UPTAKE, PERCEIVED EXERTION AND MOOD STATE DURING A ONE HOUR UPHILL WALK. Journal Of Exercise Physiology Online. June 2008;11(3):20-25.
2. Halvorson R. Tell Your Kids to Take a Hike. IDEA Fitness Journal. June 2011;8(6):17.
3. Hiking Downhill Has Its Own Rewards. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. March 2005;23(1):7.
4. HIKING MAKES YOU SMARTER. Backpacker. May 2012;40(4):72-74.
5. Keller J. Trail Users Twice as Likely to Get Enough Exercise. IDEA Fitness Journal. January 2007;4(1):18.
6. Liemohn W. Hiking: An Activity for Almost Any Age. ACSM Fit Society Page. Summer2012 2012;:3.
7. Smith T. Hiking exercises your body and nourishes your mind. Running & Fitnews. May 1994;12(5):4-5.
8. Stephenson M. HIKE YOUR WAY TO YOUR BEST! BODY EVER. Shape. May 2010;29(9):164-168.