Staying Healthy on the Trails

Hitting the trails is a must during the beautiful Summer months. And these tips from our Chief Wellness Officer will help keep you healthy, happy, and hydrated when you’re on the trails.

Hydration – This should be your first priority, particularly if you aren’t used to exercising at higher elevations. General recommendations for water are 1 liter per hour of exercise. Instead of stopping for large gulps of water take small sips throughout the hour. And don’t forget, water can feel heavy when you carry it for long periods of time – 1 liter of water weighs almost 2 pounds.

If you don’t want to carry your water you have another option; carry a filter system such as Lifestraw or a water sterilizing pen like SteriPEN so you can drink water straight from the source. Generally, natural spring water fresh from a spring doesn’t need filtration. But filters do a great job at removing larger particles and are usually effective enough for drinking from U.S. water sources. On the other hand, a sterilizing pen can kill viruses and/ or bacteria that can’t be caught by a filter. Some people like to have both, and both are pretty lightweight.

Chemical purification tabs are an alternative to carrying equipment. Most hikers prefer Chlorine Dioxide Tablets. Plan ahead as these tablets can take between 30 minutes and 4 hours to properly purify the water.

Nutritional Support – With hydration also comes electrolyte and mineral loss. For shorter 1/2 day hikes proper mineral balance can be achieved by keeping water intake high and with some smart snack choices. Eating foods that are high in potassium and contain some salt, fat, and even a little natural sugar are great. Make your own trail mix with salted mixed nuts, fresh dates, and dried (unsweetened) coconut can for the perfect nutritious snack. If you don’t have access to any of the above supplementing with electrolyte drinks or tabs is always an option.

Nutritional bars are another great choice, but finding the right one is key. How can you tell what nutrition bar is going to be best for you? Make sure that the sugar grams are lower than protein grams, there are no added sugars or sweeteners, carbohydrates are between 25 to 45 grams per serving, and there are 10 to 25 grams of protein. For shorter hikes, protein can remain higher and carbohydrates lower, for longer hikes over 90 minutes increase carbohydrate intake and decrease protein.

Conventional wisdom says to load up on carbohydrates before a workout but a meal higher in fat will actually give you better-sustained energy. Carbohydrates can then be used for immediate energy as needed. Be sure to enjoy a healthy protein rich meal after your hike to refuel.

Bear spray, a hat, proper shoes, and sunscreen are always essential. For sunscreen, Rathna Raju, MD of Reincarnation Medical Spa recommends Elta MD sunscreen for face & body. Apply even when it feels like the sun is not out, those rays in Jackson are powerful!

As with any successful outcome, it all starts with proper planning. Knowing how many hours you’ll be active, how strenuous your activity will be, and any water sources that you’ll be near to hydrate if you choose not to carry your own water.

Article created by Chelsea Kmiec, Chief Wellness Officer at Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates/Christie’s International Real Estate. Kmiec develops and implements health and wellness services exclusively for our team and clients. As clients seek the Jackson Hole lifestyle, many are also seeking to change the way they are living, and we are able to assist in achieving lifestyle and health goals.