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Why It’s Important to Take Breaks While Hiking in Banff

by Trevor Holewinski

No matter where you hike, prioritizing taking a break can be challenging. That is especially the case when you’re travelling around the Canadian Rockies. After all, there is so much to see and so little time to get to everything. Whether that’s hiking to view the stunning turquoise of Lake Louise or to explore the Plain of the Six Glaciers, you likely won’t want to miss a thing.

That doesn’t mean you should avoid resting, though! While it can be tempting to put that on the back burner, it’s important that you don’t. A break can be crucial for your well-being. To see why, let’s consider some of the major reasons for taking a break while hiking.

You’re Dehydrated (or Nearing That State)

Sometimes, it’s less about the rest itself and more about staying hydrated. After all, your body will need more water when it’s physically active. That can be easy to forget. But if you feel like your mouth is drying up and you have a headache, treat that as a sign that you should stop hiking and drink some water. 

Pushing ahead otherwise could be a cause for concern. While initially all you might get is some head pain, continuous dehydration can lead to bigger health concerns like kidney stones if you’re not careful. So, a steady intake of water is key to remaining in fit hiking condition.

In fact, staying properly hydrated can do a lot to keep your body fit for future hiking activities. It can help you regulate your body temperature, lubricate and cushion your joints, and even protect your spinal cord and other bodily tissues. 

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that water is not always the most exciting of beverages. So, how can you get around that fact? Just add a wedge of lime or lemon to it for more flavour! Or, if you want something that gives you a more sugary sensation, try taking along some liquid water enhancers to change the taste of the water itself.

However you decide to go about it, just make sure you keep your water intake regular so that you remain hydrated and healthy throughout your adventures.

You Haven’t Yet Tucked Into Some Snacks

Water shouldn’t be your only intake when hiking. Food is the fuel your body runs on to stay energized and keep moving. Without it, your hiking adventures might be cut short pretty quickly. That’s why it’s critical to bring snacks and remember to take the time to stop and enjoy them.

Not sure what snacks to bring? Consider following the advice of Robert Iafelice, a registered dietitian and author. Robert notes that activities like hiking “predominantly burn fat for fuel.” Therefore, you want filling snacks that can regulate blood sugar, such as protein, fibre, and heart-healthy fats. But you should avoid snacks that are mainly carbohydrate-based, as they can cause a blood sugar spike and make you feel lightheaded. Essentially, you’re looking for snacks like trail mix, dried or fresh fruit, beef jerky, pumpkin seeds, and protein bars.

No matter what you choose to bring and eat, however, you should also take care that it doesn’t add to the litter in the area. Snacks can come with packaging or have seeds and stems that you should hold onto until you can recycle, compost, or throw them into the trash. That way, the scenic nature you came to admire will remain pristine and open to future visits. After all, isn’t that what attracted you to these spots in the first place?

Sometimes Your Body Just Needs to Recharge

No amount of rushing to see it all is going to matter if your heart, lungs, and muscles are straining to do their best to keep up. It’s just a sign that you need to recharge and slow your pace.

While there will be plenty of beauty around you to admire during your break, you may want something more to do. Luckily, there are plenty of activities to enjoy that don’t require you to bring additional items. 

For starters, you’ll have likely already brought your smartphone with you, which is the perfect tool in times like these. With it, you can touch up those gorgeous nature photos you took before your break, plan your next trek, or even while away some time playing on Canadian online casinos.

Don’t want such a heavy focus on electronics? Then, consider bringing along one or two physical book copies. Or if you want to engage in some mindfulness, maybe it’s time for a bit of yoga or meditation.

No matter what you decide to do during break time, make sure it puts you at ease so that you can continue whenever you’re ready to keep moving.

More Urgent Situations Can Also Pop Up

Recharging while hiking is not just about hydrating, refuelling, and resting. You also have to be prepared for more urgent situations, like dealing with an injury after hiking long enough. 

You might find you’ve gotten a blister, sprain, cut, or sunburn. No matter how insignificant it may start out as, it’s always good to stop and treat the concern immediately. That prevents the injury from worsening over time and halting your hike altogether. Even if it’s just a minor blister, it can grow to the point where it tears and leads to an infection, so always take a break to care for an injury properly.

The same goes for when you’ve accidentally gotten stranded. If you’ve gotten lost, it’s definitely time to take a break and call 911 immediately if you’re within cell reception. If not, stay in a highly visible spot so that whatever search-and-rescue effort is employed can more easily find you.

The Key Is to Take That Crucial Break

It’s all about ensuring your hiking adventures around the Canadian Rockies and elsewhere keep you safe and healthy. Whether that means taking that much-needed breather, a water or snack break, or an emergency stop, a break is vital for happy, healthy hiking.

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