Happy Routes: Take a Walk Now: Harvard Health Blog


Although the COVID-19 pandemic has not ended in any way, more people are being vaccinated and restrictions are gradually being lifted. After too much idle time i inside, what better way to move your body and enjoy nature than by taking a walk? In many ways, hiking is the ideal antidote to a global pandemic, as it can heal both body and soul.

Enjoy the benefits of an excursion

  • Like walking hard, hiking offers moderate-intensity cardiovascular training, as long as the trail includes some hills or slopes. Hiking on uneven surfaces traps the core muscles and improves balance.
  • Hiking is also an increase in mood. Research shows that spending time in green spaces, such as nature trails and wooded areas, can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It doesn’t matter if you walk alone or with other people.
  • The CDC still suggests that people maintain social distancing during outdoor activities, including hiking, as it is not possible to know who is completely vaccinated. You should also wear a mask around people who are not in your home or personal box.
  • Many local, state, and national parks are still closed or have limited access, but some tracks may be open in your area or reopen soon. (Check these places to find the status of local routes near you: National parks service, American routes, i American Hiking Society.)

Ready for excursions?

Before fitting your hiking boots, make sure you are well prepared. After all, it’s probably been a while since you’ve been out in the world. Here are some tips.

Work on your walk. If your resistance to walking needs some work, start a regular hiking program in your neighborhood. Walk 10 to 20 minutes daily and keep a step counter to motivate yourself.

Security first. If you can’t walk with someone, let a friend or family member know where you’re going to walk and for how long. Bring your cell phone and a local map, if needed.

Apply sunscreen. Even if you walk mostly in the shade, you can still burn yourself in the sun. Always use sunscreen with at least 30 SPF that blocks both types of ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB) and a lip balm with sunscreen. Apply about 20 minutes before the walk and reapply every two hours.

Protect against ticks. Ticks are common in the US and can infect serious diseases, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks are often found in wooded, bushy or grassy areas. Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants, if possible. Use insect repellent that is effective against ticks on exposed skin, clothing and hiking gear. Do a thorough check of the ticks after walking. Know what to do if you find a tick in your body and what signs suggest that someone may have stung you, such as rashes or simple symptoms. Contact your doctor immediately for proper advice and treatment.

Stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after the walk. Pay attention to your thirst (if you are thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated). Put a timer on your phone or sports watch to remind you to drink at regular intervals.

Look at the weather. If you are unsure of the forecast, use layers that you can add or remove depending on the temperature. Carry a rolled-up windbreaker, rain jacket or poncho in your backpack.

Give support. Invest in hiking or trail shoes with good ankle support. Wear calf-length socks to protect your legs. Hiking with walking sticks can help you navigate tricky terrain and lean on your knees.

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