Take a Hike for Health

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Bring water on your hike, plus sunscreen and insect repellent if you'll be out for more than an hour. Using a backpack creates the added benefit of more weight - a 10-15 pound pack can increase calorie burn by 10-15 percent. A slight incline is best, especially for beginning hikers. Take strain off the knees on the way down, especially if you're overweight, by using a walking stick to stabilize your body. Downhill exercise counts when it comes to strengthening muscles and burning calories, but be careful if you have joint problems. Descend in a zigzag pattern instead of straight down the slope. Not sure where to hike? Check out the American Hiking Society's Web site for information on trails near you.