Hiking is a fun way to exercise and explore the outdoors. Fitness and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy hiking because it offers a chance to see new places while getting a great cardio workout. Although it is typically a safe activity, hiking can be dangerous due to falls, unsafe trail conditions, and the challenges of physical exertion.\nHiking can still be an enjoyable \u2014\u00a0and safe \u2014\u00a0activity if you take the proper precautions and do a little planning beforehand. To stay safe before, during, and after your hike, consider the following safety tips.\nLeading up to the Trail\nBefore beginning your hike, make sure you’ve prepared your backpack and your body.\n\nGo on regular walks, slowly increasing the intensity of your pace and resistance conditions.\nIntroduce energy-rich foods into your diet. Focus on adding lean meats, carbohydrates, and proteins.\nTo help prevent muscle strains or injuries stretch and warm up prior to your walk.\nFamiliarize yourself with the conditions of the trail and make a hiking plan.\nLearn what time it gets dark and bring sleeping gear and other appropriate equipment if necessary.\nBreak in new shoes and clothing prior to your hike.\nAlways inform a friend or family member of your travel plans.\n\nOn the Path\nWhile on your hike, wear proper equipment for the season.\n\nAvoid cotton materials to help prevent overheating.\nChoose bright colored long-sleeve shirts and pants to protect against ticks.\nDress in layers, and bring extra pairs of socks to stay dry in case of rain or unexpected weather.\nA pair of supportive shoes can round out your outfit and keep your feet ready for all weather conditions.\nHave a whistle available in case you are in danger and need assistance.\nIf the terrain is rugged trekking poles may be helpful to assist with balance and stability.\n\nRemember the adage of “safety in numbers,” and hike with a group when possible. Make sure someone on the hike carries a backpack with safety and emergency supplies. This pack should include:\n\nKnife or multi-tool\nSnacks high in protein for energy (trail mix, granola bars, nuts, etc.)\nWater\nFlashlight or headlamp and batteries\nRain supplies\nSunscreen\nInsect repellent\nMatches\nWhistle (three short sounds signal distress)\nBasic first aid kit\nTrash bag\nAluminum foil\nCompass and trail map\n\nDon’t depend on your cell phone to work on the trail. It’s also important to develop a plan to communicate with your fellow hikers in case your cell phone has poor reception or runs out of battery.\nAfter the Summit\nAt the end of your hike, take the time to hydrate yourself with water or a sports drink and a nutritious snack. For post-hike safety and well-being, remember these additional tips:\n\nAfter longer hikes, rest and don’t overwhelm your body.\nIn the case of injury or accident, seek proper medical evaluation and treatment.\nFollow recovery instructions provided by your medical professional.\n\nAlways dispose of trash in the appropriate containers to help keep the trail clean for future hikes.\nTrail Notes\nIf you’re new to hiking, consider speaking with a park ranger or local park employee to learn about trail conditions and get some helpful tips. Each trail poses different risks for hikers, so becoming familiar with its demands and nuances could help avoid injury.\nWith a little preparation and a modicum of caution, hiking can be a healthy, lifelong passion, and can allow you to enjoy new environments while interacting with nature. By following these tips and preparing yourself for the journey, you can avoid potentially dangerous situations.\nFor more sports-specific information from our experts, please visit\u00a0UPMC Sports Medicine online call 1-855-93-SPORT(77678).