Hiking has it’s perks, but the best one- accomplishment. There are many baby boomers who enjoy hiking and who do so for their health, but reaching that peak offers metal clarity, social interaction and physical fitness. A hike can be a walk in the woods, in a meadow, along a brook, or on a boardwalk across wetlands. Hiking is walking, and many consider walking the best exercise, and almost anyone can hike at some level.
When hikers plan trips, they generally consider where to stay, what transportation is available and what restaurants are in the area. Senior hiking has increased dramatically in the last decade as the older generations are living longer and staying healthier.
Hiking is more than a fun attraction on a trip. Walking is the staple of living independently. If a person can’t get out of a chair or lacks leg strength, he or she might have to go into assisted living sooner rather than later. Starting a hiking regime early might prolong the move to a nursing home, and keep a person living stronger and healthier for years to come.
Here are some tips for your next hiking adventure:
Pace yourself. Stopping to take in the scenery, take pictures or catch your breath is more than OK — it’s encouraged. Jim Reagan, 78, of Keedysville, hikes on the Appalachian Trail near Boonsboro with his dog, Max, at least once a week.“When I walk on the Appalachian Trail in the woods, it’s a form of meditation for me,” Reagan said. “I feel that I’m part of the space. Sometimes I will reach out and touch a tree and feel a sort of energy.
Start early. Mornings are cooler, and energy often hits a wall after lunch.
Wear comfortable shoes. Hiking shoes should have solid ankle support as well as be lightweight and have non-skid soles.
Bring a backpack. Make sure it is lightweight, and only pack it with essentials: water bottles, light snacks, a map and a cellphone in case of emergency. Any medications you take might be good to have a sealed bag as well.
Pack extra socks. Keeping your feet warm and dry is essential.
Use a walking stick or trekking poles. Walking sticks or trekking poles are necessary for people with knee, back or balance problems.
Hike with friends. No one should ever hike alone, hike with a buddy or join a hiking group.
Here are a few hiking adventures for your next vacation:
At 8,000 feet, on Oregon‘s Mount Howard, you may feel the effect of altitude on your lungs. In the past seven years, the Portland Parks & Recreation has become renown for its Senior Recreation program, more than doubling the number of weekly hiking trips it offers, and interest continues to grow. This 50+ hiking program has become so popular that it cannot always accommodate all of the people interested in a particular trip.
The Danville (California) Area Senior Hikes (DASH) is open to all adults and meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. Most hikes are not strenuous, but because of the local terrain, one needs to be steady on the feet. Distances are usually in the 4- to 5-mile range, the pace is moderate, and the leader makes stops to view scenery, wildlife and to talk about local history when appropriate.
Seniors traveling or living near Berks County, Pa will discover a wide range of hiking possibilities for seniors of all skill and fitness levels. The Blue Mountains and Appalachian Trail offer easy hiking treks on a variety of terrain, taking you through farmland, by lakes and up rocky, mountain trails. There are many senior hiking groups in the area that meet weekly to hike.