Mother Nature’s playground does more good for our bodies and minds than we often realize. Yet the inherent benefits of being outdoors are often not discussed and rarely brought to light. A walk in the wilderness can do more for you than just improve your physique and overall well-being.
It can help you lose weight, reduce stress, build long-lasting friendships, and improve your mood. Aside from these four rewards that come from hiking, there are a plethora of other reasons to take a hike. We will dive into 20 of those reasons right here.
1. Break Away from the Gym
Drop the dumbbells and ditch your next spin class in favor of a workout in the great outdoors instead. You will avoid the overcrowded, claustrophobic atmosphere of the gym and instead be awarded the opportunity to experience the solace of nature.
2. Build A Lasting Friendship
Texting and comments on social media only build so much rapport. Opt for some intimate, real-life bonding time by taking a hike with a friend or significant other. You’ll be surprised how much you can get to know someone when you are required to spend hours with one person.
3. Explore A New Place
We spend the majority of our time at home or work. Break away from the walls of a building and instead check out a new trail. You will get to check out a new destination and explore new terrain, always stimulating for the senses.
4. Get in Shape
Depending on your height, weight, terrain, and the climate, you can burn over a hundred calories hiking in a single hour. Whether you’re trying to lose a few extra pounds or drop some serious weight, hiking is a great way to achieve this.
5. Escape Reality
Every once in awhile it is nice to get away and escape. Yet most of us can’t afford to take lavish, week-long vacations. Hiking is almost a mini-vacation, an opportunity to leave all your troubles behind even if it’s just for an hour.
6. Make A New Friend
Hiking is becoming more popular with the advance of social media and the ability to showcase stunning destinations. Meetup groups and even social media communities are banning together to give people the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who also enjoy hiking.
7. Reduce Stress
By simply spending time in nature, you can greatly reduce your stress. In fact, a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area each day felt less depressed than participants who walked in a high-traffic, urban setting.
8. Improve Your Aging Process
Want to stay healthier longer? Take up hiking. A study published in the Journal of Aging Health shows spending time outdoors regularly can help older people stay healthy and functioning longer. Participants in the study who were 70-years-old and spent time outdoors daily had fewer complaints of aching bones or sleep problems than their counterparts who didn’t spend time outdoors on a daily basis.
9. Disconnect From Technology
In an age where everyone is glued to their phones—75 percent of people admit to using their cell phone in the bathroom—it is almost a relief to have to put our phones down. Hiking is the perfect excuse to leave your cell phone in your Camelbak for a few hours.
10. Get a Healthy Dose of Vitamin D
Vitamin D can be a difficult nutrient to get through strictly food, and many of us work indoors for the greater majority of the day. Vitamin D is essential for bone growth, cell growth, and neuromuscular and immune function. There is no better place than the great outdoors to get the natural sunlight our body needs.
11. Sharpen Your Skills
Walking requires putting one foot in front of the other. While it may seem like a mindless activity, hiking actually requires a number of skills: focus, navigation, awareness, agility, and endurance; just to name a few. Take a hike to sharpen each of these skills.
12. Challenge Yourself
There have been plenty of hikes where I’ve thought to myself “I’m never going to do that again”. Yet each of these hikes I felt a strong sense of accomplishment once I tackled that feat. Push your limits and work up to tackling tougher peaks and longer trails.
13. Sleep Better
Have you ever slept like a baby after a tough workout? Consider how well you’d sleep after walking 10 miles to the top of a peak and back. Participants in a study who exercised 30 minutes a three to four days a week slept on average 45 minutes to an hour longer on most nights, waking up less often, and reporting more energy than those who didn’t work out.
14. Feel Better
We learned earlier that hiking can reduce stress, but it can also improve your mood. The natural sunlight, short escape from reality, and sleep improvement will be enough to make you want to make hiking a long-term hiking.
15. Breath Fresh Air
At work, we breath in stale air we share with the rest of our coworkers. In our home, we breath in the smells of air freshers and the odors of our pets. In the city we breath in pollution. Take a hike to breath in fresh, natural air.
16. Save Money
Hiking is one of the most affordable activities available. Aside from the cost of gas to drive to your destination, a pair of good hiking boots, a backpack, and perhaps a pair of trekking poles, there isn’t much else you need to take on a hike.
17. Watch the Sun Rise/Set
You won’t be able to watch the sun sink beneath the horizon on the TV at the gym. Nor will you get the best view by watching it from behind your bedroom window. Climb to the top of a peak to catch the best glimpse.
18. Switch Up Your Scenery
There’s only so much that can be seen jogging on a treadmill or taking a barre class. When you take a hike, you have the opportunity to explore new scenery, see new terrain, and admire the wildlife that surrounds you.
19. Spend Quality Time With Your Pet
How guilty do you feel watching your dog slump to the floor as you leave for the gym? By taking a hike, you can bring your best friend along for the fun. Most hiking trails allow dogs to also traverse the terrain. You’ll get to spend quality time with your furry friend and your dog will also get to reap the rewards of a hike.
20. Work Around Your Schedule
You can spend as little or as much time hiking as your schedule allows. Whether you have an hour after work before the sunsets or want to spend your entire weekend backpacking, hiking knows no time limit.