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Hiking is an endurance sport. It makes the heart and circulation work, which requires you to be healthy and to realistically assess your fitness. Try not to rush and walk at a tempo where nobody in the group gets out of breath.
Hiking maps, guide books, the internet and experts can inform you about the length, height differ-ence, difficulty and current conditions of a hike. You should always choose which hiking trails you will take according to the skills of the group. Pay particular attention to the weather forecast because wind, rain and cold increase the risk of an accident.
Make sure you have the right equipment for the hike you are taking and that your rucksack is not too heavy. Protection from the rain, cold and sun should always be packed in your rucksack, as should a first-aid kit and a mobile phone (European emergency number 112). Maps and GPS will help you find your way.
Good hiking boots protect and provide relief to your feet and improve your footing. When choosing a pair of shoes, make sure that they fit perfectly, have non-slip soles, are waterproof, and that they are light.
Falls as a result of slipping or tripping are the most common cause of accidents. Make sure that you do not lose your footing or concentration because you are going too fast or are tired. Also watch out for falling rocks: by walking carefully you avoid loosening rocks.
In areas without any signs there is an increased risk that hikers will lose their way, will fall or that rocks will fall. Avoid short cuts and go back to the last point you recognise if you stray from the path. Steep old snow fields are often underestimated and very dangerous as one can easily slip.
Regular rest helps hikers to recover, enjoy the landscape, and makes the hike more sociable. You need to eat and drink to sustain your concentration and energy levels. Energy drinks are ideal for quenching your thirst. Cereal bars, dried fruit and biscuits will satisfy your hunger while walking.
Discovering the landscape in a fun and varied way is very important for children. In passages where there is a risk of falling, an adult can only look after one child. Very difficult hikes, which require long periods of concentration, are not suitable for children.
Small groups are more flexible and allow members to help each other. Tell everyone in your group your end destination, route, and return route. Stay together in your group. Attention to those hiking alone: even minor incidents can require serious emergency assistance.
To protect the natural mountain areas, do not leave rubbish behind, stay on the paths, do not disturb wild animals or livestock, do not touch the plants, and respect protected areas. Take public transport or use carpooling to get to your destination.