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10 Ways That Hiking in Los Angeles Will Help You Keep Your 2012 New Year's Resolution

Photo by David Lockeretz of Nobody Hikes in L.A.
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By David Lockeretz of Nobody Hikes in L.A. / Special to LAist

No matter what your New Year's Resolution is for 2012, there's an excellent chance that hiking can help you achieve it. Hiking has obvious benefits when it comes to health-oriented goals, such as losing weight, but it can play a role in many different kinds of resolutions. Here are the top 10 New Years' Resolutions for 2012, according to the site 43Things, and ways in which hiking can help you stay on track.

1) Save money

Can hiking help you save money? Everybody knows that being healthy increases productivity at work and helps minimize lost wages and medical bills, but the cost of gym memberships and high quality foods can certainly add up. However, many hiking trails are absolutely free, and the nominal parking fees charged at some outdoor areas can often be covered with stray change that's fallen between the car seats. Some hikes might require purchasing gear, but many can be done in tennis shoes, jeans and T-shirts. The most obvious place to start in Los Angeles is Griffith Park. Parking is free, gas to get there is cheap and you don't need any special equipment (in fact, you're bound to see someone overdressed with full make-up on at some point).

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2) Set an attainable athletic goal, like running a 5K

Hiking can be a fun way of getting in shape, with scenic variety that you won't find at the gym. In addition to goals such as a 5K race, hiking can inspire you to achieve other goals as well.

3) Read at least one book a month

Do hiking guidebooks count? OK, maybe that's a stretch — but perhaps getting into the outdoors might inspire you to read "A Walk in the Woods" or "Into the Wild." If you do decide to dig into some local guidebooks, there's the most famous guide "Trails of the Angeles," "Afoot and Afield Los Angeles" is also good and my very own Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook.

4) Get a job

This one may also seem like we're overstating the case — but is it out of the question to suggest that the endorphins of exercise, plus the inspiration of nature, will provide positivity that will help you on your job searches and in interviews?

5) Lose weight

No stretch necessary here, right? Sullivan Canyon is a long, rigorous hike but the navigation is simple and there's very little difficult terrain. (The free parking should help you out with #1, too)

6) Keep a notepad of awesome moments

You have to experience awesome moments before you can keep a notepad of them, and wherever you hike, you are sure to find some.

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7) Get enough sleep.

This may seem counter-intuitive, as hiking often requires an early start. However, having to plan for such things will force you to get into a good sleep schedule. Also, being tired from the exercise will help you get to sleep earlier.

8) Eat, drink, learn or try something new

If you've never been on a hike, going on one is a good way to try something new. If you are already a hiker, try a trail you haven't yet visited, perhaps one that forces you to learn a new skill, such as navigation or rock climbing.

9) Fall in love

You never know - you may find that special someone on a trail. Meet-up groups centered around hiking and recreational activity are forming all over the country even as you read this. Meet Up has several groups in the area that go on hikes together, Fitness Singles hooks you up with athletically-minded singles and the dating site howaboutwe... lets you pitch a date idea — why not a hike? It sure beats going to bars, right? Even if you don't find true love in the great outdoors, the positivity you will get from exercising and being out in nature will help you in your search — just as it will on a job hunt.

10) Take a photo every day for a year

Let Mother Nature do her job and help you out by providing you a constant stream of new subject matter to keep this resolution interesting and fresh. Sandstone Peak is a phenomenally scenic hike in the western Santa Monica Mountains that features great ocean views, geology, canyons and more.

Whatever you decide to do in 2012, you will not regret making hiking a part of your plan. Good luck with your New Years' Resolutions for 2012 — and have fun on the trails!