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Take a Hike, Even If You’re a Beginner

Maybe you love exercise classes or working out at the gym. If so, that’s great for you, but I am not one of your kind.

I’m happiest, in fact, when I’m out in nature. That’s why when I exercise, I head to the nearest park, where I can do my HIIT on a track by a duck pond and then relax with a hike in the woods. Unsurprisingly, the hike is my favorite part. The trees, the fresh air, the challenge of hills—it’s all good.

In fact, I’d recommend hiking to anyone looking for an exercise to start. It can be challenging, but it’s also easy for beginners to get started, especially with day hikes. Those just mean that you go hike in the daytime and go home that day when you’re finished. So if you’re having nightmares about sleeping on the ground in the dark woods, you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.

To get started with day hiking, you’ll need a few supplies. You can go all out on fancy equipment later, but you can use basics when you first start. To that end, get a backpack. A cheap one is fine. In it, pack water—more than you think you’ll need—and snacks, like nuts and jerky. In addition, you should pack a first aid kit, a trail map (printed—not on your phone), and a light source. Depending on the weather, you should also pack extra clothing.

I admit that I don’t carry all of this, but that’s because my trail is almost in shouting distance of my house. Still, my foot caught on a root earlier this year and I went from vertical to horizontal in seconds. It hurt only my pride, but what if I’d been more seriously injured? I would have had a bad time struggling back down the hill to the trail leading back to the park. So make sure you’re smarter than me.

Above all, the most important you should have are the shoes. You don’t have to invest in high-tech hiking boots yet, though. Cross-training sneakers are fine. Just make sure that whatever shoes you choose, they’re already broken in and they fit well.

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