Hiking Your Way to Better Health
Take a Hike!
"Don't push yourself, and use common sense as you build up
your endurance," Howland says.
You don't need a hiking trail per se to walk -- walking around
your own neighborhood is just as effective from a fitness standpoint as going
to a park, but if you would like to put a little distance between yourself and
the sidewalks you see every day, the American Hiking Society (AHS) can provide
you with free information to guide you to one of the country's more than
170,000 miles of trails. Log on to www.AmericanHiking.org or call (800)
AHS is so gung-ho on the health benefits of hiking that the
theme of this year's annual National Trails Day (June 1) is "Trails for
"The theme underscores the health benefits of hiking and
other outdoor recreational activities," said Mary Margaret Sloan, AHS
president, in announcing the campaign.
"Spending time outside, whether I'm hiking or climbing,
enables me to incorporate exercise into my life in a way I love," said
"Trails for Health" spokesman Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind
mountain climber to scale five of the world's seven tallest peaks, including
Mt. Everest, and who is set to climb the last two later this year.
Besides Weihenmayer's visual challenges, he also suffers from
seasonal allergies. If you do too, the thought of sniffing and sneezing your
way along a woodland trail might not sound too appealing. Allergies, however,
needn't keep you indoors, says Howland.
New developments in medications -- from once-a-day prescription
nasal sprays to eye drops to antihistamines such as Allegra or Claritin, which
don't cause drowsiness -- mean that most allergy sufferers can enjoy almost
1total relief from their symptoms with no side effects.
Howland advises those with allergies to stick to prescription
medications and avoid over-the-counter allergy remedies which often cause
drowsiness. "You don't want to be on a challenging trail and suddenly find
you're sleepy," he says.
So, it looks like there's pretty much no reason at all for you
not to walk out your front door ... and keep on going. "Hiking is an
enjoyable, non-competitive, aerobic exercise that you can do in the city or the
country, says Howland.
What's not to like about that?