Ho-ho-holiday hiker series launches on Friday!

The holiday season can indeed be the most wonderful time of the year. But they can also bring a dastardly duo of stress and indulgence. We’re here to help you avoid that.

Last week, we offered advice on eating better over the holidays from Shelly Wegman, a registered dietician with Rex Nutrition Center in Raleigh. Today, we offer the best way we know to combat stress — moving. Specifically, moving down the trail.

This Friday, as we all awake from a Thanksgiving tryptophan torpor, we’ll be launching our Holiday Hiker series. We’ll gather at 11 a,m. on the Loblolly Trail at Umstead State Park for a 4.2-mile hike. Then, for most Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons through Dec. 24, we’ll hike a similar distance on trails throughout the Triangle. The hikes are just far enough to stretch your legs, elevate your heart rate and clear your head, but short enough to fit into the busy business of the holiday season. (The last thing we want to do is stress you by getting you behind schedule.)

If you’ve already done some hiking, you know the value of an hour or two on the trail. Some of you enjoy hiking at a hearty clip, focusing on getting the heart rate up. Others are out there to slow things down, to swap the madness of the mall and the demands of year-end deadlines with the quiet of a forest that’s settling in for the winter. (It’s remarkable the calming effect a forest stripped of foliage can have.) The eight hikes we’ve selected for this series meet the needs of both hikers.

On Friday, if the weather’s nice — and it’s supposed to be, with a temperature around 60 under clear skies — the parking lot at Umstead might be a little crazy. But you’ll leave that behind  not far down the Loblolly Trail, as we slip into a forest that descends for about a mile to feisty Reedy Creek, then crosses mild ridgelines for another mile. Much of this trail is new within the past few years, and it’s a pleasure for both speed hiker and the slower-moving naturalist. We lead from the back, so nobody will be left behind, whatever pace you choose.

Later in the series, we’ll hike along the rocky Eno River, sample the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and explore a nature preserve and a research forest, too. And, in the spirit of the season, we’ll have treats at all the hikes. All of these hikes are family-friendly, with shorter options for shorter legs.

Too often, we throw in the towel on healthy living when the holidays roll around. I’ll make it up with my New Year’s resolution, we tell ourselves. We couldn’t have gotten this more backward. Now is the time to start paying attention. Be cognizant of what you eat, get in some hikes, and you’ll already have healthy ways established by the time January 1st rolls around.

Join us on the trail this holiday season. To learn more and sign up, tap here.

Happy Trails!

Joe

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