Walking in a Wintery Wonderland – Hiking in January

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If one of your resolutions this year was to get fit and get in shape, you may well have resolved to do more walking this year.  Walking is a fantastic way to improve fitness and health.  It’s also really easy and cheap since, technically, you don’t need any special gear or clothing to take part in and, unless you live in a really repressive country, generally don’t need permission to go outside.  And even if you live in a metropolis it’s not too hard to hop in a car or on a bus and go out into the countryside – presuming you don’t have a park in the city for that very purpose!

Health professionals like to recommend walking for several reasons including –

Weight Loss – Probably the biggest reason most post-seasonal walkers take up the habit.  A brisk 4mph walk can burn up to 300 calories an hour making it a fantastic way to lose a few extra pounds..

A Source of Vitamin D – Vitamin D is unusual in that it is created by our bodies due to exposure to sunlight.  It’s needed to keep bones and teeth healthy.   While it can be reinforced with certain foods and dietary supplements walking about outside during the day really is the best way to get what you need.

Lower Disease Risk – Walking actively improves health and helps to ward off all manner of diseases such as diabetes, strokes, cancer and even dementia in older persons.

Bodily Toning – It may not be pumping iron at the gym, but serious walking brings serious results.  You’re still using muscles to propel yourself forward and these, including your leg muscles, glutes, and even abs all get a work out when walking. 

More Energy – Walking isn’t just your body moving, it wakes your whole body up.  The activity boost circulation around the rest of your body delivering more oxygen to every cell in your body.  This’ll help you feel more alive – try a brisk walk at the start of your day or during your lunch break and feel the difference!

Precautions to take.

While walking is certainly not what anyone would consider an extreme sport, walkers, especially in cold wet January, are advised to take precautions and make preparations so they can enjoy a safe and pleasant walk.  Here’s a few we’ve learned about from experience.

Wrap Up Warm – Going into the cold can lower your immune system and make you more vulnerable to infection.  Make sure you go out with a warm coat, a hat, scarf and gloves.  It’s better to have them and not need them, then suddenly want them when the temperature plunges after dark.  (This tip, brought to you by the ADL staffer who ignored his wife about the scarf thing and is now recovering from a nasty fever).

Bring Waterproofs – Unless it’s a very quick sunny day and you’re going on a short walk make sure you have some form of water protection with you on your walk.  The cold weather with freezing rain will very quickly ruin your experience if you aren’t protected.  Coats are preferred for the full body protection but even an Umbrella is better than nothing.

Get Water-Resistant Footwear – Puddles are everywhere at this time of year, and sometimes completely obstruct pathways where you may intend to walk.   Make sure your footwear can take a bit of water without leaking.  Going straight for wellington boots however is generally unwise – they aren’t made for proper walking especially the cheaper varieties.

Consider a Walking Pole or Stick.   – If your walk is going to take you cross country in February, you may want to bring a stick along incase your come across any muddy puddles.  Not only is the stick useful for balance, but you can use it to test the depth of a puddle before plunging a foot in. 

Carry a Phone With You – You may want to get away from it all for a bit but in the unlikely event that you get into difficulty and need to call for help a mobile phone can be a lifesaver.  Depending on where you walk you might not be able to get coverage but you can get it in a surprising number of places nowadays. 

 

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