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Hiking is a great way to get outside. It merges exercise with leisure and comes with a plethora of health and wellness benefits. Fresh air and sunlight are imperative for both mental and physical health, and taking time to simply step aside from the bustle of modern life can have palpable effects.
If you find yourself gearing up for a trek-- either hiking, walking, or even camping-- it’s essential to bring the right materials to make sure you stay hydrated, energized, and comfortable. Here are three tips to keep in mind before venturing into nature.
There is an optimal way to pack a backpack. Even if you’re only going for a light stroll, it doesn’t hurt to come prepared. The bottom of your pack should include soft, squishy items that you’re least likely to access while on the move (they act as a kind of shock absorber as you’re on the go). Sleeping bags, long johns, or an extra pair of socks should go here. The middle of your pack should include the heaviest items: an emergency water bottle or pot for boiling water. At the top of your backpack, right within reach, should be snacks and water that you can easily access as you move. Keeping this order in mind can make a surprising difference in comfort and make hiking substantially more enjoyable-- poor weight distribution can result in an aching lower back.
In case of emergencies, it's a good idea to bring your cell phone with you when hiking. However, do your best to keep it out of sight unless necessary. Immersion in nature prompts our brains to release a bunch of feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin, but the effects won’t be as positive if your face is buried into the artificial light of a phone screen. Set your notifications to vibrate, throw your phone in a side pocket, and enjoy the outdoors.
The Earth, wherever you live, is full of little complexities and wonders that often hide right under our noses. Actively seeking out these things-- whether it be a spiderweb bouncing in the breeze or a vibrant rose poking out from an early spring frost-- can help instill an appreciation for the little things that we have the opportunity to see every single day. “Stop and smell the roses” is a popular saying for a reason. The little things in life are just as amazing as the big ones, all you have to do is look.