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To Get In Shape, Head for the Hills

Spring is the perfect time to start hiking

Are you in lousy shape? Have we got an exercise for you. Are you in great shape? Have we got an exercise for you.

It's like going for a walk, only better. It's hiking. And health experts say this is a great time of year to get started.

According to an article from New Jersey's Bergen Record, hiking is an ideal spring and summer fitness strategy because it's usually nice and cool on the trails and in the mountains. It can be more fun than a walk around the neighborhood because you're surrounded by trees, blue sky and birds.

Also, with a little research, you can find a trail that suits your fitness level. You can start by joining a hiking club. And as you get better, you can go with a friend or two, or by yourself.

The article recommends hiking for between 30 to 60 minutes a day, three to four times a week. Start with a flat route, then add in some hills. If you join a hiking club, find out how members rate their hikes. Easy hikes are usually slow, on flat terrain and include lots of stops. Moderate hikes might include rocky trails, have fewer stops and be a little longer. Advanced hikes move quickly with lots of climbing and no stopping.

If you're a beginner, hit the local sporting goods store before you head out and get a good pair of waterproof hiking boots and a backpack. When you do go out for a hike, bring water, easily digestible snacks, bug and tick repellent, sunglasses, sunscreen and a flashlight.

To find out more about hiking, you can read this article from OutdoorPlaces.com. To learn more about how to plan a trip, check this piece from The Hiker's Corner.

Wondering where to hike? Here is a huge database of trails and trail information from The Trail Database.

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