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LighterLife activity: Beginner’s guide to walking

April 12, 2013 - Fitness

Walking600x812Take the doom and gloom out of exercise, and add some fun and adventure with our starter’s guide to rambling outdoors…

Whether you’re looking to improve your fitness levels, reduce stress, or simply clear your head and get out into nature, going for a good walk delivers almost immediate rewards, and can boost your mood!

Going for a hike doesn’t have to mean delving into the depths of the forest or scaling mountains. It can mean exploring your local parks, coastal paths and forestry, orienteering with your friends, or even a brisk walk to work. However you choose to start, walking in general is considered a low impact but effective activity… and it’s inexpensive – now isn’t that refreshing!

The kit you’ll need…

Boots
If you have a bad pair of boots, the rest of your gear is meaningless. Full-grain leather boots have excellent durability and abrasion resistance, and are very waterproof. For a lighter boot, go for split grain leather, which is usually paired with nylon or nylon mesh to offer lightweight, breathable comfort. Go for a mid-cut boot to protect your ankles.

Hiking socks

The little brother to hiking boots – but just as important! Look for socks made from materials that wick moisture off your skin and keep you dry and more comfortable – polyester blends, acrylic and merino wool. Flat seams prevent uncomfortable chafing and itching and give extra comfort by cushioning your heel and toes.

Waterproof clothing
When you’re walking up hills, you will raise your heart rate and sweat. For this reason, you need to consider the breathability of your waterproofs. They will keep you protected from the rain and wind while allowing sweat to escape, keeping you comfortable. With the amount of rainfall in the UK, it’s worth getting waterproof trousers. Look for ones with zips at the bottoms as they’re easier to slip over your boots.

Backpack
A relatively light, waterproof backpack with wide padded straps and a waist belt is best for long walks and hikes, as it places the weight of the pack on your hips rather than weighing your shoulders down.

Map and compass
Don’t rely solely on your mobile phone for maps and directions. If you lose signal or your battery dies, you could be in a spot of bother!

Torch
Even those of you planning short walks, a torch could be a lifesaver if you find yourself lost or injured and night falls.

First aid kit
Don’t let a fall ruin your hike! Make sure you have a professional first aid kit – plasters and bandages are the most popular contents.

Water
It’s important to keep hydrated on your walk. Carry a full water bottle, or, if you’re drinking from streams, take water purification tablets and a filtration pump.