Take a hike, boost your confidence

A look at what exercise can do for the psyche.

By Samuel Greene

As we plunge into the warmth of summer, hiking through the great outdoors is a great way to unwind from the stresses of school, and it’s not just the exercise that helps. According to a 2010 study from the University of Essex, self-esteem, focus and general mood all saw boosts when subjects exercised in “green” environments rather than in urban areas. Whether you make the trip out to Ledges State Park, or stay close to home at, here are six things that you’ll need to make your hiking trip a success.

1. A Solid Pair of Shoes

Though the type of shoe you’ll need depends on the trail you mean to conquer, good support and a grippy tread will help you prevent a day-ruining rolled ankle on any surface.

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2. Dress in Layers

Though it may be cold as you begin your day, Iowan winters are known for being volatile and you may find yourself sweating beneath a heavy jacket. Start with a t-shirt, then a vest or sweatshirt, and then top it off with a light jacket so that you can respond to any environment.

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3. Warm Drinks

Bringing a thermos full of coffee or tea will provide you and your friends with a quick way to warm yourselves if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

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4. Snacks

Few things can ruin a hike more quickly than finding yourself miles away from food with a rumbling stomach. Bring energy dense foods like trail mix and dried fruit to cut down on how much weight you need to carry. For those counting calories, don’t worry, you’ll burn plenty on your adventure.

5. Water

The only thing more important than food on a hike, is having plenty of water. Being dehydrated will make your hike miserable, so the extra weight is always worth it.

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6. Your Phone

It might seem counter-intuitive to bring your greatest worldly distraction as you try and escape into the great outdoors, but having both a GPS and a way to contact EMS is always a good idea.