Essential Items for Health and Confidence on the Trail

Staying healthy on the trail is vital if you want to maintain maximum performance and avoid unnecessary ailments or set backs that come from poor nutrition and care. To enjoy your hikes to the fullest you should always pack your essentials first so you never have to stop and worry when you're out on the trail.

These items will boost your health and energy levels both on and off the trail and keep you safe in unexpected situations and circumstances.

Water

Let's start by stating the obvious: Staying properly hydrated should be your No. 1 concern when out on the trail.

If you are heading out for a short day hike that won't have you on the trail for more than a few hours, you should pack enough water to drink roughly 20-ounces per hour. For longer efforts on the trail you should make it a point to stop and intake 10 ounces every 15 minutes in order to stay fully hydrated and healthy.

Simply put, water is the ideal liquid for most hikers. However, longer or more strenuous hikes often call for liquids with a little extra oomph, most notably sports drinks and mixes. These enhanced liquids contain electrolytes, meaning they not only keep you hydrated when you're exerting yourself in hot weather but they also protect you from a little thing called over-hydration. Over-hydration is what happens when the amount of salt and other electrolytes in your body become too diluted and your sodium levels become dangerously low.

Next time you hit the trail, make sure you bring enough water for yourself and remember to stop once or twice an hour to take a sip and keep your hydration levels at max performance.

Nutrition

Short hikes don't call for as much meal planning as longer backpacking trips do but your nutritional needs remain the same regardless, which is why you should educate yourself on the types of food that will help repair and strengthen your body during more active periods.

For high levels of physical activity you want foods that provide physical energy and mental fuel (carbohydrates), and promote a healthy nervous system (B-vitamins, iron) while building and repairing cells (vegetable proteins). Consider planning meals that contain whole grains and starchy vegetables, like rice, cornmeal, or potatoes. If you're looking for bars or other easy meals to eat on the go, first make sure they are actually providing you with the nutritional value you require.

Another food group that is important for longer backpacking trips are your meats, poultries, eggs, and dairy items. On the trail you really don't require much of these foods, however once every day or two in small portions will make a huge difference to your performance and health on the trail. The calcium and protein intake will help improve bone strength and muscle contraction so in order to keep your nutritional needs in balance consider packing items that contain ingredients like powered milk, peanut butter, or nuts and seeds for the proteins and healthy fats. LARABARs, made from minimal, pure ingredients, are a great place to start.

Vitamins & Supplements

The longer the trip, the harder it gets to pack food that will provide enough nutritional value for the length of time you're on the trail. But don't worry, there is an easy solution. Most experienced hikers and backcountry explorers use vitamins and supplements to meet their personal health needs instead of relying 100 percent on food. Not only will meal planning seem much easier but you'll have more room in your pack since vitamins and supplements don't take up very much room.

To avoid dangerous nutrient gaps in your diet while on the trail you should take advantage of supplements that not only bridge the gap but help you recover quicker, boost your energy, and increase your overall health and stamina. For hikers putting in long days of high energy, consider adding supplements like calcium, probiotics, fish oil, and a multi vitamin to your hiking pack. Amway, a global leader in health products, sells a variety of natural and plant-based supplements. They will help protect and nourish your body out on the trail so you don't have to worry about starving your body of the nutrition it requires.

Safety & Survival

It might seem obvious to you, but many hikers don't realize the significance of safety and survival gear on the trail and the role it plays toward overall health. Accidents, mistakes, slip-ups—they all happen on a daily basis, even when you're on the trail. So being prepared with a few key items for safety and survival will give you wonderful peace of mind in case the unexpected occurs.

An item you should never hit the trail without is a basic first aid kit. You can find a wide range of first aid kits at almost any grocery store or gas station but these can also be personalized and purchased online, of course. The Red Cross sells a variety of first aid kids and supplies, including a CPR keychain. For added peace of mind throw in a pocket knife, a small coil of paracord, and a fire starter so it's all in one place. Don't forget other health-conscious items like sunscreen and sunglasses too.

Ideally the best item for survival, other than extra water and food supplies, is an emergency shelter, beacon, or some sort of GPS tracking device. Not everyone will care to bring or purchase all of these items, especially since each one adds a little more weight to your shoulders, but trust your gut and put your safety and survival right up there with your overall health and performance.

If you fear the trail might be too difficult for you or perhaps the weather doesn't look very promising, prepare yourself and pack anything you think you might need so you won't be without it on the trail.

Keep your hydration and nutrition in the forefront of your mind when packing for your next hiking trip. Don't pack food items that give you little to no nutritional value and be prepared with extra supplements and liquids so you can be confident and ready on the trail.

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How to Avoid Pain and Injury for Runners

Running is a great individual effort sport. It teaches one how to set goals, adopt discipline, fix stride and cadence issues, breathe correctly, etc... Also, it is one of the most beneficial activities for cardiovascular health in general. With all of these upsides, why not run all the time. After all, the more activity the better correct? In this case, no.

With running, although it is so healthy for the heart and lungs, it can also be devastating on the joints and the muscles. The body is quickly and easily broken down from the impact of the feet to the street when running, and pain and injury tend to set in swiftly and chronically for long-time series runners.

If you want avoid pain and get rid of the possibility of injury as a runner, you will have to take precautions to make sure you do so properly. Here are some "how-to" tips to get rid of pain and injury as a serious runner.

1. Warm up and cool down with a walk

If you are going on a long run or even doing shorter fast-pace sessions that could include sprints, it is always best if you incorporate from time to cool down and decrease the heart rate. Not only will it get your heart rate in a proper zone, walking will also help to take the intense strain off of your joints temporarily so that there is lesser of a chance to over-train and injury yourself when running for a long period or sprinting for intervals.

2. Get a pair of padded insoles for your feet

If you plan to spend a lot of time in a pair of shoes hitting the pavement, you will want an insole that relieves pain caused by plantar fasciitis and other foot conditions because developing these conditions can be painful and also a major setback. Getting fitted for proper insoles and understanding how you place pressure on your body and spine through the striking of your feet can make the world of difference in long-term back pain and injury.

3. Get your cadence and form down

Looking to go out and put on 10 miles on the pavement and get up to distance or speed in a hurry? Working your way up too fast in general is a bad idea in terms of what your body can handle. However, it is also a bad idea to chase speed or distance too quickly before developing proper form and proper cadence. Work on a straight back with tucked arms and proper breathing first. Also, work on a cadence that is as close to 3 steps per second (180 steps per minute) as possible so that your form and stride are excellent prior to pushing your limits: it makes all the difference in the world.

4. Wear fitted running shoes

It is equally important to get a pair of running shoes that matches your style of running as it is to get your form down, wear the proper insoles, and warm-up properly. Getting fitted for your running shoes allows an expert to evaluate your pronation, your heel-to-toe strike (and the lift you need), the padding you need, the arch support you need, the weight of the shoe you need, etc... The proper running shoe takes you from a pain-laden injury-prone running nightmare, to the best running version of who you can be in just a matter of minutes: so pick out the right pair of shoes because it is vital to your running health!

Conclusion

These tips can give you some areas to work on in regard to avoiding injury and pain while runner. You have to take the proper precautions to make sure that running not only becomes a lifestyle-enhancing improvement for you, but also a sustainable practice.

Because the body is broken down so easily from running and also because running is such a great cardiovascular exercise, it is important to make sure you treat your body with the respect it needs to continue running for a long time.

If you have comments, suggestions, questions, or feedback, please leave below so we can discuss. Thank you!

4 Benefits of Walking with Your Spouse

Going for a walk each and every day may not sound like a very profound thing to do. Of course, it sounds healthy and sounds kind of fun to unwind after a long day of stressful work, but a common 30 minute walk does not necessarily get the health hype it deserves.

In fact, taking just a 30 minute walk each day or evening with your spouse (alone if necessary of course), can be drastic for overall health and improvement in the long scheme of things. Regular walks can reduce the risk of disease, lower blood sugar, lower cortisol, promote active muscle recovery, burn fat and calories, etc...in addition, a nice evening walk with your spouse can also be a relaxing blast!

With that said, there are some profound benefits of taking that walk each evening with your spouse, and here are some of them:

1. You will lose weight

It may seem extremely obvious to anyone reading, but activity burns calories over a sustained period of time. Walking is no exception: a 30-60 minute walk can burn anywhere from 100 - 400 calories and raise the heart beats per minute enough to get some fat burning exercise in. Of course, cardiovascular benefits are not as great as running, but calories are burnt nonetheless and therefore fat can be lost over time.

2. Your relationship will improve

If you have a spouse to assist with walking each night, not only will the health benefits multiply, but also the relationship goals will grow and strengthen as a whole. A long walk gives time to wind down the day and recap it with your spouse. In addition, the shared activity can bring bonding time and a sense of closeness while reducing stress for both parties at the same time. Walk with your spouse to build your relationship as much as your health.

3. Your mood will get better

Walking can help to burn fat, burn calories, and get you and your spouse on the same page; but did you know that it will also help to improve your mood? A daily walk can release endorphins that give the feel-good feelings and help to relax the nervous system all at the same time. You may find that walking together as a team or a couple will help to express feelings verbally that were not necessarily communicated prior and therefore relieve the pressure and stress that has accumulated throughout the day.

4. Your chances of diabetes will be decreased

Walking is great for losing weight, for lowering stress, and for getting closer as a couple. But as you walk and talk together on a nightly basis, your risk of diabetes will also decrease. This is a two-fold system: not only will you maintain the weight by not putting any additional pounds on (assuming a consistent and reasonable diet, of course!), but you will also get the blood circulating and bring down the blood sugar a few points at the same time. So, take that walk after dinner each night to get the blood sugar in check and at healthy levels.

Conclusion

Evening, morning, or daily walks with your spouse can be fun, relaxing, and healthy all at the same time. Taking walks together at a regular interval and frequency can do many things as listed above such as: burn calories and fat, improve the relationship, improve both partners moods, and lower the chances of developing diabetes. A 30-60 minute walk each and every day is a drastic improvement for continuing a preventative health program and will bring out the healthiest side of you both in the long-term.

Have some comments or suggestions to share with the community? Maybe you have some of your own ideas on how you can have fun and stay healthy at the same time while enjoying it with your spouse: it does not necessarily have to be taking walks! Leave your comments below and we will discuss right away.

The Best Elliptical For Runners

Serious runners tend to be very particular about their workouts, which is why many scoff at the idea of using an elliptical machine as part of their regular routine.  But ellipticals can actually be very effective in helping to recover from injury, providing a whole body workout and allowing you to boost your running speed and increase endurance by adding resistance.  With this in mind, it may be helpful to consider the best ellipticals for runners.

While all ellipticals combine the motions of cross-country skiing, running and stair climbing, not every elliptical will be able to provide the kind of workout that serious runners want.  When it comes to getting the most out of your elliptical, quality certainly matters.  You’ll want a good, sturdy machine that doesn’t contain too many plastic parts so that it can stand up to rugged use.  Also, though you can get ellipticals in either front, center or rear drive, runners usually opt for rear drive models that allow for a more natural positioning of the body.

Beyond durability and design, there are other qualities to look for in the best ellipticals for runners.  Primary among these is resistance.  Runners like to have at least 20 levels of resistance so that they can vary their workout to mimic different types of terrain.  Another feature that adds to resistance is a flywheel of at least 25 pounds.  This can give you the maximum challenge while continuing to perform smoothly.  With adjustable resistance you can allow for low impact workouts if you are rehabbing an injury or higher settings to help you firm, tone and strengthen muscles.

Stride is also extremely important when it comes to getting a healthy workout.  The best ellipticals for runners can adjust to accommodate different users or simply to give an individual user some variation in his routine.  Again, this can help to mimic workouts on different types of terrain or using different speeds in order to engage various groups of muscles and boost your workout.  Some machines combine stride variations with incline settings, allowing you to mimic the feel of running uphill or at full speed.

While ellipticals typically focus on the lower body, most also allow for working out the arms by including moving arm bars.  This can be an important feature for runners, who prefer an elliptical that allows them to achieve the same kind of synchronized, swinging arm movement that you use naturally while running.  Not only is this more comfortable, it allows for a full body workout, which is important to serious runners.  In most cases, runners tend to look for handlebars that synchronize naturally with pedal movement for a more unified workout.

Aside from these main features, other things to look for in the best ellipticals for runners include a wireless heart rate monitor to allow you to track pulse readings.  Some machines even have the ability to automatically adjust routines in order to help you achieve maximum heart rate.  At the same time, wireless capabilities can help you keep track of your data so that you can stay on top of your results and some even feature video workouts that can help you feel as if you are out on the road.

Though choosing an elliptical is a very personal thing, these tips can give you an idea of what to look for so that you can determine the best ellipticals for your training needs.  That way, whether you are a weekend jogger or a serious competitive runner, you can be sure to get the most out of your elliptical workout and help improve your endurance.

Tips to Recover From A Long Run

Long distance running is a great form of exercise yet also physically demanding. Whether you run for fun, are training for a marathon, or want to relieve stress, it all takes a toll on the body. There are many ways to help you recover from a long run, from hydrating properly to getting enough sleep. Here a few effective tips to keep you in top running shape!

Hydrate

The first ten to fifteen minutes after a long run are key to replenishing your body with liquids. Certain drinks that have electrolyte's such as Gatorade are effective as they balance out your pH level, move nutrients into your cells and move waste out of your body. It is important to aim between 16-20 oz. of fluid to replace the loss from sweating.

Eating

Food is an extremely important role in long distance running and it is key to fill your body with the correct amount of nutrients to help the recovery process.

Chocolate milk, yogurt, banana's, granola, and peanut butter are all effective  foods when it comes to post run fuel. Eating a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is key to maintaining a healthy balance. Having the right amount of carbohydrates and protein ignites the recovery process. They fill your body with high nutritional value without craving the bad sugary foods!

Take a Nap

Getting enough sleep is key to the body's recovery process when running long distance. Your body needs to rest and sleep is one of best ways to accomplish this. After a long run your body is tired and needs to recuperate. 20-30 minutes for short-term alertness are recommended for napping. In addition, a way to help recover your feet specifically during the nap would be to use nighttime foot orthotics . Orthotics will help feet with any plantar fascitis issues and ensure you are on your way to happier and healthier feet.

Napping in general will improve your performance without feeling more tired and will not interfere with your nighttime sleep. If you are tired and are longing to shut your eyes for a few minutes, listen to your body and take a nap.

Stretch

Stretching after a long run should begin within 25-30 minutes post run. Focusing on major muscle groups such as hamstrings, calves, hips, and quads, are key to refueling and recovering. Not much time is needed to stretch as 10-15 minutes are all you need to help the soreness and stiffness of your long run.

A foam roller is another tool that is extremely helpful for long runs. It helps alleviate knots, small injuries, and any tightness you might be experiencing. Loosening up the muscles will help your body recover in a natural and healthy way.

Conclusion:

Those are my tips on how to recover from a long run. Hydrating and sleep are great ways to get back on the path, but following all of the tips will be beneficial to bringing you up to your most optimal athletic running levels. Running is physically demanding and can take a toll on the body.

Have your own tips, have some to add, or disagree with my tips on recovering from a long run? Simply use the comments section below and we can discuss the best techniques for not only running properly, but also for preparing your body to heal up and do it again! 🙂