National Take a Hike Day: get out there with these top tips!

Hiking is the perfect sport for people of all ages, physical ability, and fitness levels.  It is a great activity to do with family, friends, or our beloved pets!  We also love that hiking is virtually free and accessible to people who live all over the country and when you travel around the world!  Thinking about starting an exercise program, wanting to spend some more time outside this fall or wanting to lose some weight? Hiking is the perfect fitness activity for you!

For prediabetic and diabetic individuals, any form of exercise can greatly help with managing blood glucose level by increasing insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate metabolism for up to 24 hours or after you exercise. 

Hiking is a great way to start an exercise routine because it is low impact and relatively safe. You can safely burn calories and lose weight while hiking. For individuals who are prone to hypoglycemia, hiking is less vigorous or risky than some other exercises and is less likely to drastically change the blood glucose level. It is actually a recommended exercise activity for many diabetic individuals who suffer from various diabetes complications such as heart disease, high blood pressure, nephropathy, and arthritis.

However, always look up a new hike to find out how long it is and if it includes any elevations and make sure you pack the right supplies to keep you comfortable and safe throughout your journey. There are plenty of resources online on where to find good trails, their conditions, length, and elevation.

Top Tips:

Foot Care - “Exercising your feet on a regular basis not only improves overall foot health, but may also reduce your risk for injury. Walking is the best overall foot exercise. When you walk, you put your foot through its full range of motion, from the time your heel hits the ground until you lift off with your toes”, says Harvard Health. They encourage not only walking but also strength and flexibility exercises for your healthiest feet.  Remember to wear comfortable, dry socks and hiking shoes and check your feet before and after your hike for any possible injuries or skin irritations. 

Hydration - First of all, eat your fruits and vegetables for hydration! Most fruit and veggies are predominantly water. It’s important you don’t drink soda or juice if you’re looking to quench your thirst. These drinks are high in sugar, which may trigger a spike in your blood levels and make your thirst even worse. Water is always the best choice for your health, and for hydration. Drink plenty of water the hour before your hike and bring plenty with you. 

Snacks - Bring an apple, low carb snack bar, or a couple servings of trail mix! The reason why trail mix is great for hiking is because it is condensed nutrition.  So open the jar or bag, take out one serving and put it away. Most trail mix serving sizes are around ¼ cup, the amount that fits in one cupped palm. Not so bad if you stop after one or two servings—but toss back a bunch of trail mix and calories from even the healthiest blends can add up.  

Layers - It is usually a good idea to dress in layers when you work out, no matter what time of year it is but especially in the Fall.  Having an inner, middle and outer layer of clothing will ensure your comfort when resting or as your heart rate climbs.  

The American Hiking Society has a fun challenge this month for you to share your fun hiking experiences.  You can make a #SmilesForMiles post with a photo or screenshot completing one or more of the below tasks:

  • Take a friend on a sunrise/sunset hike
  • Share your favorite on-trail treat (Tip: leftover pie = great summit snack )
  • Choreograph (and share) a silly trail dance
  • Be a trail angel for the day and see how many smiles you can get from other hikers
  • Plan a dream hike and take one step to make it a reality
  • Head out on the trail with a new hiking buddy or group

For more information about the challenge check out AHS website!

Diabetes UK reminds us that, “Those with type 2 diabetes who are treated by diet, exercise and the oral medication, metformin, are very unlikely to suffer a hypo while hiking or trekking. However, people on drugs such as sulphonylureas and glinides will be at increased risk of hypos. There are two options; one is to increase your carbohydrate intake before and at intervals during the walk, while the other is to reduce your dose before hiking or trekking.”

For more information on healthy living and controlling and treating diabetes, join our free diabetes support group: Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together. Get out there on Wednesday, November 17th for National Take a Hike Day and share your photos with us #TakeAHike . Continue your hiking through the month to maximize your health, family and community benefits and share in the love of our park systems and trails around the country.