Back to Back Issues Page
Hiking Itch
May 27, 2013

May 2013: A Note From Diane

Greetings, virtual trail buddies!

The merry month of May is waning, and in North America that means we're in the thick of what I refer to as the "greening up" time of year.

Green shoots are poking up through dead grasses, trees are exploding with tender green leaves, and all of that green is calling your name. Aren't you getting the itch for some leg stretching adventures?

Hikers don't need lots of lead time to prepare for a hike, but it makes sense to do a bit of planning so you can grab your pack and GO when the urge strikes (or schedules permit).

This month, I have a few "convenience" items to share with you, and more good news about why hiking is a smart investment in your future.

Let's get to it!

Have you seen these?

I stumbled across a dandy little tube called "GoToob" recently, and promptly renamed it "GooTube" because it brought back memories.

Remember the bad old days of the roll up, squeeze tubes for transporting peanut butter and jelly? Maybe you're still using those tubes (all of mine have cracked and been discarded).

Check out these "easy fill and clean" soft tubes if you're going to be carrying pbj, sunscreen, or soap in your pack. I purchased a 2 ounce (60 ml) tube and intend on getting several others because of how easy they are to fill. Operating the flip cap with one hand is another nice feature.

Here's the website:

One more handy little "convenience" item if you're going to be hiking through poison ivy territory, or be exposed to stinging insects: Cortizone anti-itch cream from this company:

And that's not the itch I meant in my opening paragraph!!

I would only use this product in an emergency, because it contains parabens (go here for a discussion of why you shouldn't be exposed to lots of these chemicals: But sometimes you've got to relieve the itch/sting in order to be comfortable enough to get back to the trail head.

Another alternative would be to carry a small tube (Hey! Another GoToob application!) of aloe vera gel and apply a thick layer on the skin eruptions. I've had good results with aloe in treating stinging nettle exposures.

By the way, I'm not affiliated with these companies, just trying to be helpful!

Hiking As A Brain Builder?

As I noted in the last newsletter, hiking pays off in many ways. Let's look at another great reason to hike well into your middle years (and hopefully beyond).

An article in the July/August 2012 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion had an attention grabbing title: "A Prospective Examination of the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Dementia Risk in Later Life."

I like this study because it targeted folks older than 70 years of age - and I am deeply devoted to the idea of hiking well into my 70s and beyond!

I'll cut right to the chase, and quote their conclusions: "Vigorous physical activity may reduce the risk for dementia; older adults who were physically active were 21% less likely than their counterparts to be diagnosed with dementia."

The authors noted that walking has been shown to increase brain volume in specific areas: frontal and temporal gray matter of the cortex. [FYI: Gray matter refers to cell bodies of neurons (electrically excitable and communicative cells) and supportive cells called glia, so it's good news that you can build volume as you age. This runs counter to the shrinking brains of old age, as many medical texts note.]

It should be noted that "vigorous" activity means walking, hiking, biking, swimming three or more times per week.

If you're interested in the study design, the article goes into detail about how other variables related to dementia were addressed: age, educational level, genetic risk factors, health behaviors, weight, preexisting health conditions. I'm including the link to the journal, but want to warn you that you'll have to purchase it:

For me, it's more incentive to get out there and hike - I'm building strong bones, muscles, AND brain!

A-hiking we will go, A-hiking we will go, Heigh Ho The Merry-Oh, A-Hiking we will go.... that's a little ditty I always sing to myself when I get tired and there's still a few miles left 'til I get back to the trail head. Do you recognize the tune? Feel free to use it as a way to distract your getting-healthier-each- hike brain until you can do a little foot hydrotherapy!

From me to you,

Happy Trails always.

-Diane a.k.a. Happy Hiker


Back to Back Issues Page