OFF THE BEATEN PATH LIES REWARD: THE MIND BODY BENEFITS OF HIKING
From trail to peak, a wholesome hike is excellent for both the mind and body.
While on a hike, from the glorious views of the nature around you to the fresh, crisp air blowing directly into your lungs, you can’t help but feel like you’re on top of the world, and sometimes you are literally on top of the world. Growing up in Northern Michigan, I’ve been lucky enough to experience the beauty of several trails and journey through several forests, beaches, and cliffs.
I’ve even traveled to Colorado and trekked the infamous Flatirons of Boulder as well as the glorious Maxwell Ridge of Fort Collins. And experienced the countless peaks of several mountains in Arizona, uncountable nature paths in the sunny state of Florida, not to forget King Canyon Park and Sequoias of California have truly been a blessing. It is amazing how rewarding a great day on the trail can be. From relaxing your mind to creating many health benefits to your body, the benefits of hiking are of many.
There is nothing like the feeling of knowing you’re doing something good for your overall health. It is no secret that there is a significant amount of modern research that suggests the countless benefits of exercise on health. Though we are constantly reminded of these numerous benefits, factoring in a regular exercise program can often be challenging for many. While the intense gym workouts or challenging cycling classes may be intimidating, hiking offers a less extreme exercise that can offer many of the same benefits. Trekking through trails and mountains is a great workout for your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and even glutes-add a backpack and you’ll really feel the burn! f you’re looking to lose some weight, a hike can help with that as well. Depending on the challenge level of your route of course, hiking can burn a significant number of calories. According to LiveStrong, this amount can be as high as 430-550 calories per hour of hiking! If you’re not already convinced that hiking is good for your body, take into consideration that hiking can also be very helpful in lowering one’s blood pressure as well as lowering risk of Cardiovascular disease and strengthening the heart. The CDC has found regular physical activity can lower blood pressure and manage cholesterol levels.
In a modern world of constant text messaging, email, and social media, we seem to have a constant attention deficit. Out on a hike, with the absence of these distractors, one can unplug and instead connect with the world around them, set their mind at ease, and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the road, trail, or peak they are traveling. Stepping into the outdoors gives one time away from the electronic world around them which is sadly something we rarely experience today. Aside from this, hiking can also have benefits on your mental health, even if for short periods of time. Stress, Depression, and Anxiety levels are continuously on the rise around the world.
After a long, hard week at work, take a weekend trip to a trail near you and experience the nature that this lovely world has to offer us. This will make the world feel much bigger, and allow your problems to seem significantly smaller, and possibly even blow away with the wind. Hiking can even improve your social life. Spending time with others and sharing an experience of a trail is truly unbeatable. I’ve hiked both alone and with pals and let me tell you when you’re at the top of a peak gazing at the sunset over the mountains and lakes, there’s nothing better than someone to admire the view with. So grab a friend, pack your bags, and explore the world together! You won’t regret it! Sources: