Hiking is a healthy hobby with a view. If you haven’t gone for a hike yet, now is the time; all you need is a good pair of hiking boots, a backpack and an awesome sense of adventure.
We spend way too much time indoors, missing out on the magnificent world out there and all of the benefits that it has to give us. Hiking is much more than a hobby or exercise – it’s a fun way of leading a healthy lifestyle and improving your overall wellbeing.
If you’re not already convinced, the following are a few great benefits of hiking:
Hiking is an amazing cardio workout. It engages and works every muscle as your blood circulation increases. Think of hiking as a constant “warm-up” for the system as you explore the majesty of the mountain. This means that ultimately, hiking leads to a healthy and happy heart.
That uphill climb does wonders for your leg strength. Hiking gives you a steady and constant exercise for your legs. The winding, tilting, ever-changing paths and terrain are a perfect and natural way to tone your hamstrings, quads and glutes, to name a few.
The uneven and unpredictable terrain of any valley, hill or mountainside will surely train your balance. The best part about this is that it’s a natural and simple way of improving your balancing skills. Your body is an intelligent machine designed to adapt to endless situations. It automatically adjusts when it is presented with the slightest change in terrain or ground level, even when you are unaware of it doing so. Basically, your entire hike is a balancing exercise.
Although the air will be thinner at higher altitudes, it is more pure. Contrary to popular belief, there is the same amount of oxygen in the atmosphere at high altitudes; the only difference is its density. Because it is less dense, you inevitably inhale less air and receive less oxygen. Yes, you won’t be breathing in as much oxygen, but you also won’t be breathing in nearly as many toxins either! Additionally, this air is mostly untouched by pollutants such as those found near a busy street, highway or industrial factories. I rather enjoy the crispness of the fresh, open air at higher altitudes. You can also practice Pranayama during your hike!
Silence and Solitude
You can finally be at peace without distractions of conversations, advertisements, television shows, radio and other noisy disturbances. Chances are there isn’t much going on in the forest or on the mountaintop. Finally – Serene silence.
Thanks to the silence throughout your trip, you will have plenty of time to reflect upon things that may have been ignored, pushed aside or even hidden from the forefront. This time of contemplation can be a deeply cleansing process, which will ultimately clear your mind completely.
Need I say more? After all of your hard work and that climb to the top, you are rewarded with well-deserved majestic views. Stop to enjoy the jaw-dropping scenery. Take this opportunity to further clear your mind and be lead into a state of simply being.
Reconnecting with Nature
During your hike you’ll have the continual opportunity to hear and observe the sounds, smells and sights of nature all around you. Nature and its sounds, specifically, are known to have a calming affect on the mind and nervous system.
Hiking is a very grounding experience. It brings us “back to Earth” as we reconnect, slow down and go back to our natural state. To amplify the amount of grounding you obtain, you can take a break at any time to rejuvenate by Earthing. Kick your boots off and dig in to soak in the benefits of Earth’s free-flowing electrons!
Hiking and walking in general can have a very calming effect on the mind – this is perfect for meditation. During your hike, you can experience a meditative walk or you can simply stop and sit to meditate at any spot that calls you. You can use the gift of the wind or the singing birds as your guide into a deep meditation.
Because of all of the above, hiking has the power to relieve you of stress, anxiety and various ailments. Furthermore, just like any other exercise, it too releases endorphins that elevate and boost your mood!
Hiking is a highly humbling experience. The vastness, majesty, harmony, balance and overall beauty that can be found or realized during your hike – your personal journey – is both inspiring and deeply humbling.
Prepare to Hike
If you haven’t hiked before, remember to take these essentials with you. It’s important to have the right necessities while simultaneously keeping your load light. Here is a complete checklist of things to include in your backpack:
- Map & Compass (These can be replaced with a GPS but I personally feel that it takes away from the experience.)
- Water Bottles
- Organic Homemade Sunscreen (A recipe can be found here.)
- Comfortable Hiking Boots
- Trekking Pole
- Energizing Snacks
Take a Hike
Now, you are completely prepared. You have the power to venture out into to woods, walk through that valley, roam through those hills and reach the top of that mountain. Enjoy this wonderful exercise of exploration!