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Winter hiking keeps your body healthy and helps you unwind

Date: 20/02/2013
Source: Camping, Cars & Caravans

In fact anyone can go hiking in winter. Apart from making sure you have warm, clothes, you don’t need to spend a fortune on gear – and, unlike downhill or cross-country ski-ing, no special skills are required.
Hiking keeps you fit and, unlike jogging, is easy on your joints and tendons.
On a long hike, your body produces the happiness hormones serotonin and dopamine: that people generally feel in good form and great spirits after a hike is certainly not a fable but a medically proven fact.
Caravanners feel the same when they go off for a tramp from the campsite in winter. And what could be better than returning to a heated caravan and warming yourself up with a mug of steaming hot chocolate or a glass of mulled wine?

Tips for winter hiking
1) What should I wear?
Layers is the secret for comfortable winter hiking. You need a functional base layer next to your skin to wick away any sweat. Next hikers tend to wear a thin fleece that keeps one warm and shouldn’t absorb moisture. The top layer consists of a waterproof jacket and trousers. You will need ankle-high waterproof hiking boots with a good sole and rubber tread to stop you from slipping.
2) What should I do if I sweat?
It is true that sweating a lot is a problem. If you are wearing too much, you will sweat, your clothes will get very damp when you walk and you will get cold as soon as you stop. The best thing for hikers to do if the weather gets warm is to remove a layer and put it back on when they stop. Another tip - regular hikers manage to regulate their body temperature through their head and hands. The body loses most heat this way. If it gets warm, swap your hat for a windproof headband and remove your gloves for a time.
3) What do I need to take with me when hiking?
You should have some food and a thermos flask of hot tea in your rucksack. As your body uses more energy in cold weather, winter hikers need to take something to eat. It’s always a good idea to carry a map, a small first aid kit and suncream. As the light usually fades around 4 pm in winter, a head torch could be useful too.

4) How do I plan my hike?
Before setting off, hikers should find out about the length and gradient of their proposed itinerary and plan their route accordingly.
Beginners can start off on by going on a long walk. Then they can tackle a hike in the hills or a low mountain range. It is also sensible to ascertain in advance whether there is anywhere to stop off and whether these places are open.
If it is very windy or snowing heavily, it is better to call the hike off.