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Try It: Hiking

Escaping into nature could be a great way to exercise without it feeling like such hard work. Here are a few tips to keep it enjoyable.

Beautiful views. Animal sightings. Fragrant flowers. Just a chance to unplug from the world and de-stress with nature. Hiking can offer all this, plus a great cardio and leg workout. To get off on the right foot, take these simple steps before you hit the hiking trail.

Ease into it. Even if you’ve been exercising regularly, hiking stresses different muscles, especially if the route is hilly or rough. Before your first hike, take some hilly fitness walks, or vary the incline on your treadmill. When you do hike, don’t plan to go much farther than your usual walking distance. And get your doctor’s permission before you go (check in with your doctor before starting any new exercise).

Dress for the occasion. People with diabetes need to take special care to avoid injuries, especially to their feet. Wear comfortable hiking boots that fit well, and wear them around the house or neighborhood first. (Walking or running shoes won’t be sturdy enough.) Also wear hiking socks made of a wicking material to help protect your feet from blisters. For extra help balancing (and avoiding falls), use hiking poles or a walking staff on rough terrain.

Play it safe. Stick to trails that are well marked and well maintained. Avoid water crossings, since having wet feet may make you more likely to develop blisters or other foot problems. Check the weather so you won’t get caught in a storm. And never hike alone: Always go with a buddy who knows you have diabetes and what to do if a problem arises. If you have a medical alert tag, wear that, too. And don’t forget the sunscreen, sunglasses, and bug spray to protect your skin and eyes. Also check your blood glucose regularly during the hike and take appropriate action if it’s too high or low. (Note: Check your feet thoroughly after your hike and report any injuries to your doctor ASAP.)

Ready a pack. Use a backpack to carry your blood glucose testing supplies, snacks, glucose tablets, bottled water or CRYSTAL LIGHT Drink Mix, your medications, a first-aid kit, some form of ID, and your cell phone (filled with emergency contacts). And don’t forget your camera to capture the views and remember your hike…it’ll be inspiration to make a return trip and maybe even discover more new ways to get moving.

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