- Keep your head
Hiking is one of the ways you may be able to alleviate some of your stress. This isn't exclusive to hiking, as any form of exercise can help lower your stress levels.
However, what makes hiking different from other types of exercise is that it takes you away from your computer, your TV, your phone, all of the modern-day technology that often brings more stress and puts you outdoors, in nature.
Hiking of course isn't the only activity you can do in nature, but it is easily accessible in times of high stress and usually doesn't require much planning ahead of time.
You can hike up a nearby hill if that's all you've got near you when you feel a stress emergency coming on. Or, you can plan a longer hike that takes you on more of an adventure away from your stress.
Studies have shown that walking in nature, specifically green environments can help us with the overwhelming mental fatigue that results from living in a world that is so centered around technology.
Nature is also a great place to gain perspective on your life, as you are looking around at things that are much bigger than you are. It can help to make your problems feel smaller as you look around at the incredible world around you.
- Start small
What you consider to be a hike may be different than what we consider to be a hike, and so on.
A hike can mean walking up the small hill on your street, or it can mean a 12-mile trek through difficult terrain.
No matter what you consider a hike, you can always keep pushing yourself to do more, to challenge yourself further in your hiking.
If you're new to this form of exercise, it's a good idea to start small and hike for 1-2 miles on a mostly flat trail. Then, once you feel comfortable with that you can start scaling up to longer hikes, or hikes that have more of an elevation gain to them.
Some workouts nowadays feel out of control with the amount of equipment you need to perform them.
But when it comes to hiking, all you need is a pair of shoes and a water bottle. If you plan to do a longer hike, you may want to bring some snacks along as well.
Because of the minimal gear needed for this activity, it is accessible to almost everyone and can be done on a whim without prepping a ton of gear ahead of time.
- Exercise goals
No matter where you are in your fitness journey, hiking is there for you to help you reach your next goal.
That's because hiking can vary in length, elevation, and difficulty of the terrain.
If you're new to working out, hiking is a much more fun way to start losing weight than running on the treadmill.
If you're big into exercise, then hiking is a great activity to do on your recovery days where you need to take some time off from the gym and let your body rest a bit. It also serves as a great way to incorporate some cross-training into your life.
Hiking is a fabulous socially distanced way of working out that allows you to keep your stress levels in check and your mental health balanced.
If you feel like you've been spending way too much time at home and aren't sure how to alleviate your feelings of cabin fever, head out for a hike and I'm willing to bet that you feel exponentially better upon returning home.
One of the unfortunate parts about aging is that balance starts to become more of a struggle. However, you don’t have to accept your fate as someone who isn’t as balanced as they’d like to be.
Instead, you can opt to incorporate hiking into your workout routine and you’ll enjoy the benefits it brings you in terms of balance.
Because hiking is usually done on uneven terrain, that forces your body to remain upright, which is achieved by balance and a strong core.
Hiking helps you to work on your coordination which plays a huge role in your balance.
In truth, all exercise is good for your brain, not just hiking. But since hiking is our topic of discussion today, we are going to focus on the brain benefits of this particular workout.
Hiking and getting your heart rate up can help you feel younger as well as stronger, not to mention the extra boost of oxygen that comes with a hike in nature.
In addition to that, hiking challenges your brain in ways that other exercises don't, which helps improve your brain health. Some forms of workouts are simply repetitive. You know what to expect, you show up, you do the moves, and that's that. While that's great for yoru body, it might not be doing much for your brain.
With hiking, however, you are often exploring trails that aren't always predictable and that don't always allow you to know what is going to happen next. Staying on the lookout for twigs that you don't want to trip on, trail markers to keep you on track, animals that may come your way, and all sorts of other obstacles are great for your brain health. It forces you to make quick adjustments to your expected route, and we love that.