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Hiking is always safer when you have a buddy or two.
Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images
Hiking is an at-your-own pace activity that is great exercise and has several health benefits for active seniors. Hiking also supports independence, discovery and socializing skills. Before taking on any hiking activities, consider how to be safe and properly prepared. Also consider taking part in additional hiking activities available to seniors, such as group hikes and nature explorations.
Exercise such as hiking is beneficial to seniors in numerous ways. According to Medline Plus, seniors require four different types of exercise: endurance, strengthening, stretching and balance. Hiking includes all four types of exercise, as it improves heart health, reduces muscle loss, keeps your body flexible and increases balance while preventing falls. Participating in physical activities like hiking keeps seniors healthy and independent.
The best times to hike to beat the heat are early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Before your hike, inform a friend of where and when you will be hiking, as well as an estimated time of return. Talk with your doctor if you require an assistive device to walk and how you can safely bring it with you while hiking. Wear shoes that are already broken in, as wearing new shoes causes blisters and other food discomfort.
Only pack necessities. At least 2 liters of water per person, a light but energy-packed snack like a protein bar, a safety whistle, a small first aid kit, an extra pair of socks, a map and a cell phone are essentials, according to Reader's Digest and Senior Travel Hub. Staying hydrated is crucial since seniors are particularly susceptible to dehydration, especially while out exercising in hot and humid environments.
Hiking groups such as Seniors Hike with Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso, Texas, offer outdoor activities for and led by seniors. While getting exercise, seniors can take advantage of additional activities like bird watching, wildlife viewing and plant identification. The trails used by such groups are well-maintained, short distances and generally have no troublesome elevation changes. Depending on the group offering the service, seniors may be required to pay an attendance fee to hike.