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Looking for a good New Year’s Resolution? Start hiking for your health!

by Liz Childers

“I usually try to have a New Year’s resolution, but I’ve spent the entirety of today trying to remember what mine was for 2011. Obviously it was quickly abandoned this year! I think a resolution must be realistic and specific for it to be successful.

With that in mind, I think this is the perfect time to convert your non-hiking friends to the wonders of the trails. Think about your friends who said this is the year they “exercise,” “lose weight,” or “will be healthier.” Do you really think they can keep those resolutions? Be a good friend and gain a new hiking buddy by touting the benefits of walking.

Why is walking a good New Year’s resolution?
The health benefits of walking are tremendous. For someone who has not exercised lately, walking is a great way to ease into it. It lowers your blood pressure, helps you lose weight, and decreases the chance of diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic, fast walking actually lowers the risk of heart attack by the same amount as jogging. So, “taking a daily walk” is a great resolution for 2012.

Why hiking?
I like to think of hiking as the ultimate form of walking. It takes all the benefits of a brisk walk and combines it with the benefits of being in nature. While simply being outside and walking on a city street is better than being cooped up in your home or walking on a treadmill in a gym, being surrounded by trees is even better. Research has shown that spending time in natural setting, whether an urban forest or a national park, has physical and mental benefits. These include decreased stress levels, increased attention spans, and decreased mental fatigue.

Be a good friend
If you love hiking already, you probably know how much fun a good hike is and how good it can make you feel. Just because you like it, though, your friends may not have been convinced in the past. Now that you know the health benefits of a good walk or hike in the woods, share them! Hiking for health is a great New Year’s resolution for all of your friends who keep saying they want to “be healthier in 2012.” Plus, converting a new person to the joys of hiking, gives you a new pal for the trails.

Hope you all have Happy Hiking in 2012! Have a great camping or hiking trip planned this coming year? Let us know about it!”