Have you ever gone for a walk in the woods? I say a walk, because that’s truly what hiking is. A simple walk. It can be as difficult or relaxing as you decide to make it. Growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains, I’ve had plenty of experiences hiking, and now that I work 9 to 5, I’ve been missing the days I used to spend on the trails.
There’s plenty of benefits you can receive from taking up hiking, but the effect it can have on your overall happiness and attitude makes every step to the top worth it. Now, here’s what I promised:
1. You get to be OUTSIDE!
Most adults don’t get outside nearly enough. If you think back to when you were a kid, you probably spent most of your time outdoors, because it was healthy. Even if you’re someone who claims to hate being outside, I don’t buy that you dislike sunshine and fresh air. Sun exposure increases vitamin D production which promotes healthy functioning neuromuscular and immune systems. This assists in healthy hormone levels for a stable mood and lower anxiety.
2. High-Altitude Exercise
As a long distance runner in high school, I struggled with “exercise-induced asthma.” One way I discovered my love of the mountains was when I started running there. By training at a slightly higher altitude than I was accustomed to, there was less oxygen, so it was harder to inhale. Doing so made it much easier to train at a lower altitude with more oxygen. If you’ve hit a wall in your cardio training, this may be one way to get over the hump, but it can also be helpful if you struggle with asthma like I did. If you add this to your training, please do so gradually. It is best to ask friends in your area trails to begin with.
Hiking may not be for everyone, but I think it’s similar to all sports. If you’re good at it once, it’ll keep you coming back for more. For those of you that haven’t enjoyed it, do you think you were on the right trail? If you’ve made it to a peak or a bald, you’ve seen an incredible view. Making it the top, in my opinion, is addictive. You feel accomplished and fearless. Unlike what you may do in other areas of life, you see immediate results from all your efforts, and you accomplished something with your weekend (or weekday!) It’s an extra confidence boost, and who doesn’t need one of those every now and then
4. Spending Time With Family or Friends
Like we said in the beginning, hiking can be as difficult or as relaxing as you make it. This makes it a great activity to do with family or friends. If you’re like me, the people in your life have varying abilities. Getting outdoors together and taking a break from all the distractions gives you and your group a chance to really hang out by chatting your way through the woods. If you’re hitting a pretty tough trail together, you may be in for some serious bonding too. So, grab a friend!
5. Break From Technology
Working in IT and maintaining a blog, I sincerely welcome a break from my cell phone and laptop at the end of the week. So when I do have a chance to hike, the break from technology is one of my absolute favorite reasons. With so many items on my to-do list and e-mails popping up regularly, hiking is my excuse to turn off all those thoughts. After getting a break and clearing my mind, I’m able to get much more done, and I won’t feel nearly as overwhelmed. Give it a shot!
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