Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Hiking is great.
But what’s so great about it?
You almost always get sweaty or cold.
Did I mention all the bugs that want to eat you?
There are several reasons NOT to go hiking.
But if you ask any avid hiker why they love it, there’s a good chance you get an hour-long monologue on just how amazing hiking is.
You might even get an invite to tag along on their next trip.
No matter what their reasons are, they can usually be summed up into one:
Hiking makes you happy.
Hiking Can Make You Happy
Hiking has several positive benefits on our mind and body – even our soul.
To give you an idea of exactly why this is, here’s a list of eight ways hiking can make you happy.
By the way, here are 18 Ways To Get Into Hiking – All Your Questions Answered.
1. Hiking Makes You Strong
The first thing most people think about regarding hiking is how physical it can be.
Especially if you have access to good trails.
You’ll inevitably trek up and down hills, balance across fallen trees, clamber over logs or boulders, and maybe wade across shallow rivers among other things.
This works your calves, quads, glutes, chest, back, arms, lungs and especially your core.
Hiking is a full-body workout!
All this physical activity (when done consistently) won’t just make you more aesthetic but functionally strong.
This means daily tasks will be just a little bit easier.
Strength also boosts confidence which then improves your mood.
Additionally, hiking exposes you to vitamin d, fresh air which enhances your microbiome and therefore strengthens your immune system.
This means you won’t only be stronger but you’ll likely also avoid and and better mitigate sickness.
2. Hiking Helps You Focus
When faced with a difficult problem, sometimes I need to take a step back and go for a walk.
Some researchers believe that overstimulating our minds with information reduces our creativity and problem-solving skills.
Like a car, our minds can only work so well before it runs out of gas and begins slowing down.
Hiking in nature calms us down and helps regain our focus for the task ahead.
Additionally, studies suggest that people who regularly spend time in nature tend to better recall information.
Studies have also shown that regularly spending time in nature boosts problem-solving ability by 50%
3. Hiking Helps You Lose Weight
Hiking is one of the best ways to lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
It’s a great low-intensity exercise that you can do for hours on end.
Since it doesn’t put too much pressure on your joints, you can go hiking even if you’re obese.
I’m not saying you can slim down simply by hiking.
An average person can only burn about 500+ calories an hour through hiking.
500+ calories are equal to just one Big Mac.
What hiking can do is prevent you from thinking about food while you’re out in the great outdoors enjoying all the sights and sounds.
It may also encourage you to make better choices once you get back home.
4. Hiking Reduces Stress
It doesn’t matter how old we are or what our occupation or lot in life is, we all feel stress.
Whether it be from a teacher giving us a hard time at school, going on a losing streak on an online game, the work deadline coming up, the mortgage, getting stuck in traffic, or not being able to find your phone after getting home, we all feel stress one way or another.
All this built-up stress can compound and lead to several mental and even physical problems down the line.
That’s why it’s crucial to find ways to reduce it.
And this is where hiking comes in.
It’s common knowledge that exercise reduces built-up stress.
Being out and about in nature also reduces stress and anxiety, probably even more so.
Hiking takes both of these and combines them into one stress-reducing, happiness inducing pastime.
When I hike, I forget about the past, and don’t worry about the future.
I am present.
5. Hiking Helps You Sleep
Hiking is perfect for those who constantly suffer from insomnia.
Hiking up and down hills and climbing over uneven terrain – while carrying a fully-laden backpack – uses more energy than simply walking on flat, even ground.
Additionally, you’re not using modern gadgets (more on this later) while out on the trail.
This makes your mind keener on following your regular sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm) when you get home.
Try going on a moderate hike for several hours at a time.
You’re sure to hit the hay before you finish your favorite late night digital entertainment.
6. Hiking Lets You Bond with Family and Friends
Hiking is a lot of fun, especially when done with a group.
As humans, we’re social creatures at our core.
Even introverts have a group of close friends they can open up to and enjoy the company of.
Since anyone can hike, you get to enjoy hiking together with your family (pets included) and friends.
You’re then able to share fond memories of your experience with each other which usually ends in the scheduling of another hiking trip.
These experiences help bring you closer to your loved ones and form stronger bonds.
7. Hiking Can Be Meditative
Hiking with a group can be fun but hiking solo also has some spiritual benefits.
When was the last time you truly lived in the here and now?
Sometimes we have negative thought patterns brought about by the constant stress we feel in our everyday lives.
Without a release, we tend to replay these negative thought patterns over and over in our minds resulting in what psychologists call rumination.
Hiking helps you focus on the here and now by stopping you from thinking about anything except catching our breath and which way to go next.
In this way, hiking makes us calm and relaxed.
8. Hiking Helps You Disconnect
Modern life is wonderful. It gives us all the conveniences our ancestors could only dream about having.
We have televisions, sound systems, game rooms, and supercomputers in our pockets that entertain us whenever we want.
Sometimes we just need to get away from it all.
There’s something about being in the center of a great wide meadow, or looking up at the canopy of giant centuries-old trees, or looking up at the clear starry sky, or breathing in crisp, clean mountain air. .
Experiences like these help us feel like we know our place in the world and create a sense of appreciation for what we have and how far we’ve come; a feeling you rarely get while walking about in an urban environment.
Why does hiking do for you?
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