Having cabin fever? You’re not alone. Exercising during the pandemic is crucial for peace of mind and health maintenance. While most people have been confined to areas in and around the home, state and national parks will be open soon, opening the doors to exploration. If you’re looking to get a good workout, you’ll get that and so much more by hiking in the outdoors. Take a look at the map, pick a location, grab your family and get ready to spend some quality time.

There are a number of reasons why hiking is a great form of exercise. According to WebMD, hiking:

  • Lowers the risk of heart disease
  • Improves blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Boosts bone density
  • Strengthens the core
  • Improves balance
  • Controls weight
  • Builds strength in lower body muscles
  • Provides a positive impact on mood

With all those benefits, who wouldn’t want to go hiking? As you’re getting out and planning hikes, there are some beautiful places to see that could be local or require a little traveling. Here are the top 5 best places to hike in North America:

Glacier National Park
Located in Montana, you’ll have breathtaking views from the mountains and freshwater streams.

Located in central California, Yosemite National Park is known for its hiking trails and beautiful surroundings. With over 800 miles of trails to choose from, you’ll get all the exercise you want and need.

Yellowstone National Park spans Wyoming, Idaho and Montana with over 1,000 miles of hiking trails. You’ll find Old Faithful and the Mammoth Hot Springs here, as well as other popular hiking spots.

Zion National Park
Utah is known for its mountains and beauty. Zion National Park offers the best of both worlds. There are three different area of trails: the Kolob Canyons, Zion Canyon and the Zion Wilderness. Plan a day trip and enjoy the hike!

Grand Canyon
The pride of Arizona, the Grand Canyon creates a breathtaking adventure. There are trails for the faint of heart and the thrill seekers. To get through these hikes, it’s best to map it out and plan a couple of days to get through it.

While visiting these places sounds exciting, what happens when you need to use the restroom and don’t have the convenience of a facility? Being prepared with RESTOP can help you out. A sanitary restroom option you can use anywhere, these disposable solid & liquid waste bags can be disposed of in a normal trashcan with no spill or odor. Safe and easy to use, the waste breaks down within the bag for environmental safety. For hikes that will take a few days, having a RESTOP Commode with supplies and a Privacy Shelter can make things a lot easier to manage.

One of the most important things to remember when planning a hike is safety. The National Park Service recommends these tips:

Know your limitations

If you haven’t been walking for long periods of time, you may have to take things slow. Don’t attempt areas where physically fit people have been challenged, especially if this is your first time. You or someone in your group could also be affected by the elevation. Do your homework and don’t skimp on anything. Hiking with others is key.

When hiking, anything can happen. It’s always best to be prepared. You’ll need a backpack with some essentials like food, water, raingear, waste bags, insect repellent, light jacket, etc. Make sure your body can handle the extra load. When planning overnight hikes, have a tent, sleeping bag, equipment repair kit, extra food and water.

Consider your trails

Every trail isn’t right for everyone. Talk to a park ranger or pick a trail the entire group can do together and make it through. Check the level of difficulty and be smart.

Have an emergency plan

You want to leave a trip plan with someone who isn’t going on the hike so they will know where to look in the event of an unforeseen emergency. You should have a first aid kit on hand, know what to expect in different weather conditions and have a way to communicate if there’s a problem. Having a Plan B is always a good idea.

Be aware

Not only should you be aware of your surroundings, but the wildlife that may be lurking somewhere close. Avoid strong scents and store all food properly to avoid unwanted visitors.

The goal is to do something fun and interesting while getting your exercise in. Hiking is one of the best ways to do both while enjoying the outdoors.