Take a Hike!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Traditions will vary from family to family, but many will enjoy a lavish feast, then settle down to watch some football, do a little grazing on the leftovers, and finish it all off with a giant slice of pumpkin pie. That certainly sounds like fun, but it’s not the healthiest way to spend your Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for everything that you have. If you’re thankful for good health, how about adding a hike to your holiday? The holidays don’t have to be unhealthy. Consider adding a new tradition, and take your family on a hike!

One of the nice things about hiking is that it is a low-impact exercise, which means that it’s great for all ages and levels of fitness. Parents, children, and grandparents can all hike together, and stay healthy together. Some trails, however, can be more difficult than others. Keep age and fitness in mind when choosing a hiking trail for your family. Young children might lose focus on longer hikes, and elderly members of the family might lose energy. The longer and more strenuous a hike, the more challenging it will be. If your family isn’t used to hiking, start off with an easier trail.

You can usually get a sense of how difficult trails are either online, at the trailhead, or in a trail guidebook. Consider things such as estimated time, distance, elevation gain, and general difficulty (easy, moderate, strenuous, very strenuous) before choosing a hiking trail.

So why take a hike on Thanksgiving? Physical activity, no matter how easy or low-impact, is better for your health than sitting around eating food all day. Not only is hiking something you can do with your whole family (and the holidays are about family, after all) to experience the fresh air and incredible sights that nature has to offer, but there are also some great health benefits associated with hiking.

  • Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle
  • Hiking can strengthen core, improve your stability, and increase your balance. This is especially important for older people at a higher risk of suffering injuries due to falling. Hiking has been shown to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Regular exercise, including hiking, can help prevent obesity and reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Walking and hiking can strengthen your bones, again important in the elderly.
  • There are many mental health benefits associate with hiking, such as increased happiness and creativity.

Taking your children hiking on Thanksgiving can be the start of a healthy tradition and can promote an active lifestyle for you and your kids. You don’t have to tackle a 10 mile trek, or try to summit a mountain. Pick a hiking trail that suits you and your family’s experience and abilities. If that’s a brief loop around Lake Fayetteville, enjoy it! If that means taking on a more challenging trail like Big Bluff, that’s great too!