Gardening with Allen

Why You Should be Hiking Regularly

While many people prefer to exercise in the gym, little can replace spending some time outdoors, soaking up Vitamin D from the sun, and exercising in the fresh air. However, too few people seem to take advantage of the opportunity.

One of the best ways to exercise outside is to take up hiking as a hobby. Not only does it allow you to experience new sights, but it also has several health benefits.

Here are some reasons hiking should be part of your exercise and recreation regime:

Hiking is good for your mental health

The fast-paced rat race we live in delivers high doses of stress and not enough downtime to recover from it. People experience stress from different sources, including family and work. There are many ways to manage stress, with exercise being one of the most effective. What separates hiking from an exercise class is that it takes place outside.

While many people participate in outdoor sports, these usually require some advance organizing, whereas a hike can be arranged more spontaneously. Hiking is possible just about anywhere and does not always require a set trail up a mountainside to qualify as hiking.

By relieving stress because of its nature, hiking also gives you a chance to clear your mind and stimulate your creativity, which is an essential component of mental well-being.

Hiking complements any weight loss program

Combined with intermittent fasting, weight loss will be quicker if you take up a hobby like hiking. According to experts, it is not advisable to go on an extended trek on fasting days. However, a brisk hike will improve intermittent fasting results as the exercise stimulates fat burning.

Before a longer hike, feed your body protein for sustained energy and drink plenty of fluids. This will give you the bounce in your step needed to see you through your experience with Mother Nature.

Hiking sharpens your brain function

Experts believe that walking in green spaces is better for clearing your mind and sharpening your brain’s acuity than walking in built-up areas and city streets. It takes the hiker away from the overstimulation of suburban and urban living.

Hiking requires more attention because it follows a trail or pathway and presents obstacles such as slippery dirt, fallen branches, and large rocks.

Applying your mind to these factors means that the muscles in your arms and legs are not the only ones getting a workout as your brain is too. This improves your brain’s cognitive functioning, hones problem-solving and decision-making skills, and memory retention.

Hiking builds relationships

Because most people hike in groups, it is a sociable exercise form that encourages people to talk as they proceed. This is essential for building new relationships and strengthening existing ones. Because there are not many distractions, aside from the breathtaking scenery, people tend to focus more on conversations and spend quality time together.

Hiking also teaches you to trust other people. They are the only ones who can help you if you fall and get injured. Learning to let others in and be close to you enables you to understand relationship dynamics better.

Hiking helps you relate to nature

The phrase getting back to nature is common because it is true. People do not realize the strong connection between the human body, soul, and mind with Mother Nature. Hiking lets you strengthen that bond and inspires people to do more about conserving their environment.

Many hikers combine their trek with a cleanup drive, picking up litter on the trail and surrounding areas. This is a great way to combine two passions: the natural world and the great outdoors.

Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.