America celebrates one of its most beloved pastimes

by Nick Norris

National Hiking Day is November 17th, and people across the country are using the holiday as an opportunity to explore the outdoors.

Hiking can be an incredibly productive activity, as it allows the body to receive much needed exercise while also permitting the hiker to experience the beauty the outdoors has to offer.

The body can burn over 550 calories per hour while hiking, but that is not the only health benefit the cardio exercise offers. It can also lower the risk of heart disease, improve both blood pressure and blood sugar levels, boost bone density, and even improve your mood.

With over 60,000 miles of trails across America, there are plenty of options to choose from to get started.

In large cities like Birmingham, Alabama, there are numerous opportunities nearby. One of the most popular in the Magic City is Red Mountain Park, a 1,500-acre park featuring 15 miles of scenic trails.

Some sites such as AllTrails and TrailLink exist to help hikers find trails near them and even let users leave reviews, helping newcomers to the exercise find the safest and most ideal trails to explore.

Safety is a commonly voiced concern among hikers, as the exercise can lead to some potential dangers. For this reason, it is best not to hike alone initially, especially on unfamiliar trails.

Bringing a partner can help hikers navigate their way back home if an injury or emergency was to occur. Over time, hikers often become more experienced as some initial challenges become less difficult to overcome. Eventually, a hiker may become comfortable going solo, but it is best to not rush into hiking alone.

It is also wise for a hiker to learn as much as possible about the trail prior to visiting. Being well prepared can eliminate many challenges before ever even happening.

Some ways to do this are to familiarize yourself with the trail map, check the weather well in advance, and pack accordingly. Storms can make hiking incredibly difficult, and bad weather may make even experienced hikers rethink their plans. Also, some trails require different necessities to travel, so pack accordingly.

Overall, hiking is a highly productive activity that can boost your physical and mental health. Though it requires some determination and may present challenges, hiking is one of the most rewarding physical activities in existence.

So, take this National Hiking Day as an opportunity to get outdoors and experience something new!