Walking and Hiking After Vision Loss
First, consider meeting with an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. This vision rehabilitation professional is trained to teach you safe techniques for walking in your community. These may require the use of a long white cane or using human or sighted guide techniques for safe travel with friends and family members.
Tips for Walking or Hiking
Once you have been assessed by an Orientation and Mobility specialist for independent travel in your community, try some of these walking tips:
- Create a routine or route that you can follow consistently to learn the particulars of the route, such as sudden drop-offs, protruding foliage, or interfering animals (and even neighbors).
- Try using a field track or an indoor shopping mall for your walking routine. Many malls have “mall walking” groups that meet before the stores open for business.
- Ask if your local parks have special walking paths. Find out if the walking paths also have lanes for bicycles or runners, so that you’ll know what side of the path to walk on.
- Walk with a friend or family member who will help point out important safety issues along your route, such as construction sites, objects in your path, or even other walkers.
- Carry water for hydration and a mobile phone in case of an emergency. And don’t forget sunscreen!
- Join a walking club or create a walking group. Studies have shown that walking with others increases motivation and adds incentives for longer walks, which can be beneficial to your health.
- For longer hikes, it’s usually a good idea to travel with another person to ensure your safety in case of an emergency.
- Try taking a sensory walk or hike, in which the focus is on enjoying the environment via your senses, rather than on the distance to be traveled.
Websites for Additional Walking and Hiking Information
- American Volkssport Association: Walking clubs and walking events
- About: Walking: Information on walking clubs and walking programs
- The Walking Site: Message board and information about beginning a walking program
- Ramblers.org: Information about walking clubs in the United Kingdom and general information about walking.