With winter on the decline and warmer weather coming back, now is a better time than ever to hit the trails. Some may hear hiking and think of bug bites and blistered feet, while others will know the joy that can be found by exploring nature. It would be naïve and a little immature to write off hiking completely. Yes, sitting at home half watching a show and half looking at your phone is fun, but hiking can be even more fun. There is something for everyone to enjoy hiking. And more importantly, it's necessary to take a step back from the world and reconnect with nature. The benefits, as you will learn, are substantial.
Improved Physical Health
Hiking is an exercise that remarkably doesn’t feel like exercise. You will be so entranced by the beauty of nature around you that before you know it you will have walked six miles. Walking uphill and downhill gives your exercise variety, and that fresh air will make your lungs feel great. Breathing in car exhaust during rush hour traffic or stale office air can be deadly to your body. Take a break from that environment and take in some clean O2 straight from the source. You will be amazed how much healthier you will feel after stepping into nature for just a little bit of your time. If you make hiking a habit you will see that your endurance gets better, your legs get stronger, and your mind gets clearer.
Improved Mental Health
Hiking results in your body absorbing tons of Vitamin D. Vitamin D, in addition to being great for teeth, bones, sickness prevention, and weight loss, fights off depression. Studies have shown that people that spend more time near nature and less time in urban environments have better cognitive health. There is a benefit to being away from the noise and chaos of cities and surrounded by the simple beauty of nature. Hiking gives you the ability to clear your mind of whatever stressors are nagging at you and focus on the world around you.
Unless you are properly stimulating your body during the day, you may find it hard to relax at night. Hiking is the perfect way to stimulate your body and improve sleep quality. This is because every part of your body is used during hiking. You are moving your legs and working your core muscles, but you are also keeping your mind active by watching out for change in terrain or unsafe footing. If you are having trouble sleeping, try going for a hike then see how much easier it will be to fall asleep, and stay asleep.
You should not be worrying about your social media while out enjoying nature. But, we understand that your online life can be just as important as your real one. Nature provides you with unlimited photographable material that will break up the monotony of the food pictures and selfies in your feed. Have a dating profile? Post pictures of you hiking to show that you are adventurous. Bring your Polaroid along and storage bag for photos. Make sure the bag can block sunlight so that your photos don’t get overexposed.
Fun for the Family
Your family can be you, your partner and children, or maybe just you and your dog. Either way, hiking is a way for everyone to do an activity together that is both fun and free. If the idea of hiking seems too boring, spice it up with Geocaching. Geocaching is a treasure hunt using your phone’s GPS to locate little hidden packages. The community for Geocaching is huge, so you should have no problem finding some near you. Hiking trails will usually have a few scattered throughout them. Some can be hidden pretty well, so you will have to keep your eyes open and not be opposed to trudging through some bushes. Important to remember is that if you take anything from the caches, you should leave something in exchange. You can even make your own and hide it somewhere along the trail, then come back to see who else has found it. Aluminum storage bags would be a great vessel for geocaches as it will withstand being outside for a length of time.
Make it a Date
How many times are you going to suggest meeting at a coffee shop or seeing a movie? Don’t be like every other person, suggest going on a hike as a fun date idea. They may be a little hesitant, but once you two are out on the trail enjoying the natural world, chemistry and romance are bound to flourish.
Hiking does not have to be a bitter march through the dirty jungle. Start re-evaluating your preconceived notions about hiking and give it a chance. You may find that what you once thought of as boring or uncomfortable is a great way to decompress and clear your mind.