Hiking is an incredible form of exercise. It engages the whole body as well as the mind, making it a lot easier to stick to than something you find tedious. Hiking is an experience, not just an exercise.
But that’s just the beginning. Hiking has numerous benefits that you might not ever guess. Stay right here to discover how hiking can revolutionize your life for the better.
Hiking is Social
Going for a hike with a friend or loved one is an excellent way to build upon your relationship. Not only do you have extended quiet time together, but you will also face challenges together. If you’re looking to meet some new people, hiking groups and clubs abound – do some research and choose one that matches your overall goals for the experience.
And even if you prefer to do your hiking solo, there are tons of online communities where you can post your hiking pictures, upload trail maps or download maps that others have posted, blog about your experiences, and make new online hiking buddies.
Hiking is Solitary
Yep, we just got done saying that hiking is social, but that’s the great thing about it. Hiking can be whatever you need it to be. Sometimes we all need to get away from the noise and be alone with our thoughts, and what better way than to commune with nature on a nice hike?
Even if it is uncomfortable at first, you will probably find that you make progress with issues that are troubling you or awaken creativity for tackling a problem during your solitary hikes. It really is challenging to do this when you’re receiving constant input and chatter from others or from the media.
One thing: always let someone know where you will be hiking and when you expect to return. It’s also important to make sure you are prepared with warm clothes (it gets cold at higher elevations), water, and a compass. It doesn’t hurt to carry a utility knife, either.
Hiking is Bad for the Environment
Yikes, how is that a benefit, you ask? Well, hiking is an opportunity for us as humans to come face-to-face with our impact on the planet. Awareness is the first step toward minimizing the damage we cause.
Wildlife generally prefers to avoid areas that are frequented by humans, unless attracted there by food. So hiking trails can cut off their means of passage across the land. Animals that are spooked by human presence may have their mating seasons disrupted or even abandon their young.
Straying off the trail tends to create new trails and can have a negative effect on native plants. And of course, improperly depositing our urine and feces is a big problem. Not only can it impact waterways, but way too many people are just dumping their toilet paper on the ground.
When you spend a lot of time hiking, you feel a sense of shared responsibility for protecting the land. You’ll naturally take steps to minimize your impact and to help educate others, too.
Hiking Can Always Be Harder
Scattered around the globe is such an incredible variety of hiking trails that it would be impossible to experience them all. From short, easy loops to advanced-level hikes that require serious safety gear, you will always be able to push your hikes to the next level.
Most likely you can find a selection of trails of varying difficulties within the same natural area nearest your home. But if you really get into hiking, you’ll want to travel to far-flung locations that can give you a whole new rush of adventure and accomplishment.
Hiking is Healthy
Ok, no surprise here. But you may be interested to learn about the many ways that hiking can improve your health. The most obvious is the cardiovascular benefits. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and lowers your blood pressure in the process.
Hiking is also great for lowering your risk of diabetes and helping to control the disease if you already have it. Hiking can further improve your bone density because it is a weight-bearing exercise. That means less risk of developing osteoporosis as you age.
There is plenty of evidence that exercise of all kinds can boost your mood, but this is especially true when you are able to commune with nature at the same time. And finally, as your body becomes stronger due to your hiking habit, you will probably find that you’re shedding unwanted pounds.
There are so many great reasons to take up hiking. Picking up the habit now will pay massive dividends in your health and wellbeing. Even better, you can design a hiking routine around your unique needs, whether that involves building new friendships or scoring some much-needed alone time. Now go hit the trails!