John Muir said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” Bug bites, blisters, and bruises are some of the things hikers must overcome as they challenge themselves and enjoy quality time with nature. The beautiful snow-capped mountain tops and ocean views are wonderful, but hiking also provides some extra mental and physical perks.
Hikers can teach us several things about leading a healthier and happier life.
Hikers are proven to be more creative.
Research shows that all the time spent outside has lots of benefits like increased attention span and a 50% boost in creative problem-solving skills. The study states that it may have as much to do with unplugging from technology as being out in nature. “This is a way of showing that interacting with nature has real, measurable benefits to creative problem-solving,” David Strayer, co-author of the study, tells the Wilderness Society.
Sunshine and fresh air also contribute to this creativity boost in hikers. Researchers from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education found that taking a stroll can get the creative juices flowing far faster than sitting.
Hikers are in great shape.
With just one hour a hiker can burn well over 500 calories, depending on the level of incline and the weight of the pack they are carrying. Serious workouts are available to the hiker without putting too much pressure their joints. Trails are much softer than asphalt and provide lots of extra cushion for aging joints. Altitude itself has also proven a weight loss ally, so take advantage of the mountains around you and don't be surprised when the weight starts to come off.
Hiking can heal you.
Do you have cancer? Some studies have shown that hiking can help in fighting cancer. Hiking is great at relieving stress. In a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine researchers measured oxidative stress (thought to play a role in the onset, progression and recurrence of cancer) rates of men with prostate cancer and women with breast cancer before and after hiking. They found that long distance hiking may improve the antioxidative capacity, that helps fight off disease.
Hikers are much happier than non-hikers.
Research shows that using hiking can help people with depression feel less depressed, suicidal, or hopeless. This may even inspire those suffering from mental health issues to lead a more active life. Being out in nature can allow people to connect more fully with themselves in a way that brings peace.
Take the Challenge!
1. HIKING IS HEALTHY
There is a growing amount of hiking-specific research, and studies on the benefits of walking are equally applicable.
The American Hiking Society has stated that "hiking delivers a remarkable range of health benefits with comparatively few risks." Hiking can be used as a way to stay physically active, potentially lose weight, reduce heart disease, decrease hypertension, and slow the aging process. Mental health benefits are also attributed to hiking by reducing stress and anxiety.
2. HIKING IS SIMPLE
Frequent hikers develop additional stamina, skills, and comfort on the trail. Humans were fundamentally made for walking, what activity could be more natural than hiking?
The beauty of hiking is that unlike, say, land luge, it's an extension of something we all do naturally and every day. You will improve over time but the initial learning curve is almost non-existent.
It’s easy to stick with hiking because the frustration level for beginners is low and you can control the intensity of your workout and find the pace that works for you.
3. HIKING IS CHEAP
Almost any other sport will have higher costs, but hiking costs are minimal.
As you get more invested into hiking, vacationing halfway around the world might be a temptation, but most of us have easy access to parks and natural areas with trails, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money (or time) on hiking.
4. HIKING IS REAL
Hiking gives us all a chance to get away from Screen World for a few minutes/hours in our day. We spend too much time on computers and indoors. I've heard that Text Neck is becoming a "thing."
Hiking is an unscripted experience. Even a familiar trail will deliver surprises that keep your attention.
5. YOU CAN HIKE FOREVER
It is smart to embrace a sport or recreational activity that you can enjoy in your older years.
Many sports have limited life spans for participants, you don't see NFL players on the field in their sixties.
As you get older, you may not get up a mountain as quickly as before. But in many ways, you’ll be a better hiker. You will pick up on subtle nuances from the trail and find great joy in the exponential beauty all around.
Let us know if you have questions!
What Participants Are Saying
"Very well organized event - took about 5:45 to go from start to the top. Plenty of refreshments offered by volunteers throughout the hike, could have left my pack at home. Good time, great views, highly recommended if you haven't done it. Trip report is HERE."
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