When the weather gets warmer and the cicadas begin to hum, we Tennesseans know it’s time to get outside! Emerald rolling hills, mighty rivers and shimmering lakes are just a few of the many reasons to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail. After all, hiking in Tennessee can be one of the most enjoyable ways to get active while taking in the landscape and breathing in the fresh air.
Not only can hiking in Tennessee help support your physical activity goals, but taking a trek through the woods can improve your mental health, too. A recent study showed that people who walked in nature — as opposed to urban settings — showed decreased levels of depression. So fill up that water bottle and grab a friend, because it’s time to get outdoors.
Bring a Friend
While you can certainly have a solo outdoor adventure, hiking with a buddy is always safer, so call up a friend and set a date to hit the trails. Once you’re trekking, don’t stray from your group or partner. It’s also a good idea to bring along a whistle, so you can make a loud noise if you’re ever separated or have an emergency.
Stay on Marked Trails
Exploring nature can be soothing to the soul, but keep your adventures to marked trails. While tempting, veering from the path makes getting lost much more likely, and you also risk damaging plants and animal habitats. Keep your treks to marked paths for your safety (and the safety of your environment).
Be Careful Around Water
If you’re faced with a water crossing, take your time. Water can add a dangerous element to your hike, so make sure you tackle any water crossings with careful thought and extreme caution. Never, ever climb wet rocks or waterfalls. They can be much more slippery than they appear — and even a minor fall can result in major injuries.
Pack an Emergency Kit
If you stay on marked trails, hang with the gang and stay cautious around water, then you’re more likely to stay safe. However, you should be prepared. Pack a small kit with the following, and bring it on all your hikes:
- Insect repellent
- Portable first aid kit
- Small flashlight with extra batteries
- Sealed food, like energy bars
- Brightly colored bandanna or clothing
- A multi-use tool
- Any appropriate allergy medications
- A brightly-colored trash bag or poncho
Avoid Sunburn and Insect Bites
Any Tennessean knows it’s easy to come in from a day in the sun with painful, red skin covered in itchy mosquito bites and sunburn. Take care to apply bug spray and sunscreen before heading outdoors. These simple preventive measures can help protect against skin cancer and mosquito-borne illnesses.
Following these simple tips will help you have a safe and fun hiking experience — and is there any better way to enjoy a Tennessee summer than outdoors, admiring the beautiful landscape?
Most outdoor activities have some level of risk, and you may need to consult an expert before engaging in the activity. Always check the current weather conditions before embarking on any outdoor activity.
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.