Hiking is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Regular hiking gives you a full body workout that will help lower stress, lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, and help manage the symptoms of depression. Studies show that spending time in fresh air surrounded by healthy green plants, grasses, and trees is good for your mental health as well as your physical health. However, there are more than 40 million taking advantage of those health benefits each year and that puts a big strain on the natural world. Do these four things to protect the natural world instead of damaging it when you hike:

Clean Your Boots

You should always clean your boots after a hike. As you walk your boots pick up soil tha contains seeds, bacteria, and other debris that has accumulated in the dirt. If you go hike on another trail and you don’t clean your boots off you will drop all that dirt containing bacteria, seeds, and other debris on the other trail and that can cause destruction. If the seeds are for plants and grasses that don’t belong in the new area it could cause invasive plants to grow that will kill all the existing plants and grass. The bacteria could use diseases that spread among plants and trees. Rinse all the soil off your boots after a hike to prevent this.

Take Out the Trash

Trash is destroying a lot of hiking trails. People should know better than to leave trash behind, but some are just careless. Never leave trash behind when you hike. Not even a napkin. Not even food. If you leave behind things like apple cores or banana peels thinking that they will just naturally decompose think again. They will decompose eventually but the process in slow. In the meantime, they can release bacteria and gasses into the air or make animals sick. Take out all of your rash even food.

Use Reusables

When you’re packing food and snacks for your hike use reusable containers. Invest in a good quality BPA free large reusable water bottle. For your snacks you can use reusable plastic containers or reusable sandwich and snack bags made from canvas and a washable liner. These reusable food bags are very convenient and great to have around the house. When you’re done with your snacks you can fold them up and slip them into a backpack or a jacket pocket so you can rinse them out and reuse them at home.

Don’t Take Things

Everyone likes to pick up fun things they see when they’re hiking. Wildflowers, apple blossom stems, and small rock are among the souvenirs that people like to take when they hike. But those things have a purpose in the ecosystem. Where they’re not there the ecosystem can’t function. One person taking something isn’t a big deal, but if all of the millions of hikers who hit the trail every year took something then quickly nothing would be left.

This article was created by Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com,) an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local ordinances to ensure you hike safe and legally.