Cambridge Health Alliance Physician and Former Rock Climber Answers Hiking Questions

Short day hikes are an excellent way to bring friends and family together to get a little exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Leaving the cell phone, television and stresses of everyday life behind and venturing out into the wilderness will also help to increase happiness and improve your overall quality of life.

CHA’s Director of Musculoskeletal Imaging, Adam Gustin, MD, took a few minutes to answer a number of common hiking questions. Dr. Gustin was a top-ranked professional rock climber before he attended medical school. He competed in indoor sport climbing competitions, a format where the competitors climb routes and are awarded points based on how high they get before falling. Dr. Gustin was also featured on the cover of Extreme Nature Magazine.

What kind of shoes are best for hiking and do you have any tips on where to purchase them?

A lot of factors are at play in shoe choice, including the type of terrain, duration, pack weight (if any), weather, and personal preference. In general, for a day hike with light or no load, I prefer trail running shoes (which work great for hiking too) or relatively light low top shoes marketed specifically for hiking. I also use this type of shoe for more extended or fast hikes with a light load. Consider a more traditional hiking boot (leather or synthetic) if carrying a heavy load or if you like extra support. With regard to where to purchase, local running or outdoor stores can be great, but researching on the Internet is very helpful – Outdoor Gear Lab is great.

Are there any specifics exercises that help to strengthen the body for hiking?

I’m a big fan of functional fitness and high-intensity cardio. Squats, lunges, sled pushes are great.

How much food and water should be brought?

I don’t think there is a clear-cut answer, as there are so many variables including the intensity of the hike, duration, weather and personal attributes. I always have a ton of food and water in my pack because I’m usually hiking with my three kids and they like a lot of snack breaks! If you are new to hiking, consider bringing more than you think you will need until you figure out how your body responds.

What is your favorite hiking trail in New England?

Locally, Blue Hills is great. There are lots of great trails there and it’s close.

What are some of the first aid essentials that need to be packed?

For day hikes where you’ll have cell phone reception, a basic first kit with bandages, antiseptic, moleskins for blisters, and any needed medications is a good start.

If you are exploring options in health care, meet the team at Cambridge Health Alliance by calling 617-665-1305 or visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *