5 Unexpected Benefits of Hiking
For a girl who’s not so big on cardio, one of my all-time favorite ways to exercise is full of cardiovascular benefits. I’m, of course, talking about hiking, a pastime of mine that has not only helped me live a healthier lifestyle, but that has also lead to invaluable friendships, an education on my local environment, and a deeper appreciation for both nature and life.
Hiking is a great work-out for so many reasons; it gets you outside, it gets you exploring, and it can be either a very social or internal experience for all those who do it. Hiking is a challenge and thanks to our many parks, mountains, and trails, it’s never the same situation twice.
Whether you’re hardcore into thru-hiking or like me, simply enjoy the pleasure of taking a few-hours-long romp around a scenic trail, there is something in hiking that everyone can enjoy. Hiking brings a person so many benefits, from good health to deep connections to connections with others.
(Photo Credit: Callistus Ndemo)
Learn to drink more water.
You don’t know real thirst until you accomplish nine miles of hiking in the summer heat. The intensity of the workout will cause you to reach for more water and in turn, you’ll learn to love the feeling of being adequately hydrated.
Establish deeper connections.
With people, with nature, with yourself — there is a truly transcendental side to hiking. It’s as spiritual as I’ve ever felt, even more so than when I’m in the yoga studio or deeply involved in meditation. If you’re hiking with a partner, it’s a great way to get to know them on a deeper level and if you’re hiking alone, it’s an excellent opportunity for some deep inner reflection.
Think about what truly matters.
What really matters in the grand scheme of things? When you’re left to fend for yourself, in wilderness, against the elements, you tend to not think about the petty. What you concern yourself with when you’re hiking is actually very telling to what (or who) you genuinely care about and what (or who) matters to you.
Get better sleep.
Reduce health risks.
The act of hiking helps to reduce myriad health risks such as anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression, high cholesterol, and many others. Hiking (and just being present in nature in general) is scientifically proven to release endorphins, therefore promoting happiness and oftentimes, happy people are healthy people.