We know that in the northern climates, much of the land is heavily covered in snow right now, so a hike in your hometown may not be an option. However, if you live further south where the ground is softer – or are planning a trip somewhere warm – consider putting a hearty hike on your itinerary.
Besides being a lot of fun, hiking comes with an absolute wealth of benefits – some of which you may not know. The following are five of them.
Hiking gets you back in touch with nature.
There is just something about being out there, walking along a trail, at one with the Earth, that can get one back to themselves. Maybe it’s the open space, maybe it’s the peace, maybe – for more experienced hikers – it’s conquering the rough terrain using pure human power.
Whatever being out in nature means to you, those who live in the city should really get out there as often as possible. Walking in the city just isn’t the same – a 2007 study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology compared the two.
During the study, twelve volunteers were given stress tests before and after walking in the woods, and walking in the city. Results showed that the volunteers’ cortisol (aka the “stress hormone”) levels and blood pressure levels were notably lower after walking in the woods than in the city.
It can improve your overall health
Besides the health benefits mentioned above, spending time in nature has been linked to improving a wide range of ailments, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, chronic pain and various digestive discomforts and disorders.
Additionally, when walking on a sunny day, you get your all-important vitamin D.
You’ll get your cardio and strength workout in before you know it!
When you hike, you not only get your heart rate up when challenging yourself to up your pace or the length of your hike, you also build strength in muscles throughout your body. Talk about an awesome workout.
Note: Beginners should start slow and steady with hiking – you’ll have plenty of time to take on those awesome trails once you’ve safely learned the basics.
It can provide you with some alone time – or some time to bond.
Whether you need to get away on your own to clear your head for a while, or you and a partner, friend or family member are looking for a fun activity to do together, hiking is the ticket. During a hike alone, you can organize your thoughts, listen to the sounds of the Earth around you or just meditate.
With a hiking buddy, some of the best conversation can flow when walking along outside together – give it a try and see.
It’s a great activity for building mindfulness.
Speaking of meditation, walking meditation is an ancient Buddhist tradition. Meditating while you hike – keeping mindful of all the sensations around you, and training your mind to encompass the present and all it brings – is a highly beneficial practice to cultivate.
What are you waiting for? Take a hike!
-The Alternative Daily