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Davis Journal

‘Hiking for Life’ is a great guide to the benefits of hitting the trails

Jan 04, 2024 10:22AM ● By Tom Haraldsen
Author Dru White’s “Hiking for Life” gives great insight into the activity, along with its health benefits and tips for finding the best trails. Photo courtesy of Dru White

Author Dru White’s “Hiking for Life” gives great insight into the activity, along with its health benefits and tips for finding the best trails. Photo courtesy of Dru White

If you’ve ever been in an argument, and your frustrated opponent who is at the end of their rope sarcastically tells you to “take a hike,” thank them. They’ve probably given you great advice.

That’s the way Dru White looks at it. He’s the author of “Hiking for Life,” which is a practical guide to help you feel good, look great and live well. His book is filled with health benefits that come from hiking, as well as loads of advice on how to get started along with a long list of do’s and don’ts and a rundown of Utah’s top hikes.

“The best investment you’ll ever make is in yourself,” he wrote in the foreword for this book. “Hiking is such an investment, not an expense, and it pays big dividends in how you feel, look and live.”

White was a guest on our latest edition of the Davis Beat podcast at outlining his introduction into hiking by his father, Gilbert White Jr., who introduced his children to the sport and was still hiking into his late 80s. It instilled in Dru White the love for hiking he’s maintained throughout his life. He refers to a couple in his neighborhood who are now in their 90s and still hike.

“They represent one end of a broad spectrum of people, of all ages and backgrounds, who make hiking a part of their life,” he said.

\In 2021, 58 million Americans took up hiking, according to a CNN Health report, and 59 percent of adults now see outdoor activities like hiking as the best choice to stay healthy. Hiking promotes better health like no other activity, according to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

White lists 29 benefits from hiking. Among them are benefits for heart health, brain health, fighting cholesterol, weight loss, blood pressure, fighting diabetes, strengthening bones and joints, improving your lungs, helping with muscle health, improving balance and flexibility and aiding in sleep.

“There are many types of healthy activities,” he said. “All things considered, hiking is arguably the most effective, convenient, rewarding and economic choice. It’s refreshing and very affordable.”

\He compares it to walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, yoga, dancing and aerobics. While all are beneficial, with most of them come challenges of financing, scheduling and availability.

“Those mountains and trails are alway there, and mostly always open,” he said. “Hiking checks off all the boxes when asked about affordability, low skill, ability to do it alone, good cardio, interesting, meshing with nature and doing something everyone in the family can enjoy.”

White’s book takes a step-by-step approach to hiking. It extols the virtues of simple day hikes, preparing physically and mentally for those hikes, planning the hikes taking into consideration of elevation and weather conditions, and equipment such as boots (“you don’t need the most expensive ones – just something that’s comfortable”) clothing (“again, something that is comfortable and appropriate for the weather”), and poles (“they don’t save energy or make you a more efficient hiker”). He also offers tips for hiking with children or dogs, as well as techniques for breathing.

There’s an extensive list of White’s favorite hikes, and he’s a big fan of the trails available in Davis County, plus a glossary of hiking terms. The guide has over 300 pages of useful information and photographs.

“I decided to write this book because I figured it might help a few people to live a happier, more rewarding life,” he said. “In particular, I hope younger people will consider what I’ve written. Spend a little time in nature, and try to gain a sense of presence. Your body is a powerful thing. When you immerse it in positive natural surroundings, your life starts to change.”

“Hiking for Life: How to Feel Good, Look Great and Live Well” is available on