Hiking is one of the few physical activities that doesn’t require a lot of equipment, money or knowledge to get started. And it’s a hobby that you can partake of year-around. Besides being inexpensive, hiking has a multitude of benefits for your body and your mind. It’ll make a great addition to your fitness routine. Here are five reasons hiking will make you happier and healthier.
1. Your booty (and heart) will look amazing
Nature is better than a Stairmaster due to the uneven terrain of most trails. Hiking will do wonders for your glutes and tone your quads and hamstrings. Hiking is also a great fat burner. A 160 lb person can burn between 430 to 440 calories in one hour. And since trails are generally softer than asphalt or concrete, hiking is easier on your joints than running or walking. Spending time hiking can also help to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
2. You can meet new people
Hikers, in general, are a friendly bunch. There are opportunities to start casual conversations with your fellow hikers by asking questions about different trails, recommendations what gear to buy or just by making a comment on the beautiful scenery. And hiking is attracting a more diverse group of people to partake in nature’s bounty. Groups like Unlikely Hikers on Instagram, Latino Outdoors, Outdoor Afro, and Outdoor Women’s Alliance provide many options to meet new people and connect with nature. On Meetup.com and Facebook, you can also find groups for single people. Maybe you’ll meet your next bestie or romantic partner.
3. You’ll be more creative
Researchers at Standford University found that study participants gave more creative answers to questions while they were walking versus sitting. Studies also show that spending time outdoors and disconnecting from technology improves creative problem-solving. So the next time you need some creative inspiration, go for a hike.
4. It’ll help give you a different outlook on life
Life, like any interesting trail, has peaks and valleys. And it’s your perspective when you’re in the valley that will help you appreciate the view when you reach the summit. And just like life, in order to get through some steep and difficult trails, you have to keep pushing and not give up. Also, when you take the time to look around at the beautiful surroundings — towering trees and mountains, glass-like lakes and endless fields of wildflowers you’ll realize how small your problems are in comparison to the grandeur of nature.
5. You’ll be happier
Hiking has been shown to have significant benefits to your mental health. Researchers found that hiking can reduce anxiety, lighten your mood, and even improve your memory. Another study concluded that hiking can short-circuit ruminating or replaying embarrassing moments or regrets. So whatever issues you were dealing with when you started your hike generally by the time you’ve finished, those issues have been worked out, forgotten, or put in perspective.