The world seems like a much friendlier place when you are walking. I’ve been walking to work these days instead of riding my bike and I’m surprised by how much calmer I feel throughout the day. I’ve been a walker my whole life. I wasn’t a very active kid and was never good at team sports. I did spend hours hiking in our pasture or at Thomas Mitchell Park with my mom, and in high school I sometimes escaped school early to head out for a country hike. In college I tried to get out Lake MacBride for a hike as often as I could.
Whenever things get difficult or confusing I’m compelled to walk. I find that I think clearer and more creatively when I’m moving. It’s the main reason why I try to make walking a part of every day, and I find that hiking is the best way to clear my mind and see things from a different perspective.
It got me wondering about the overall benefits of hiking for our bodies and minds. Just by doing some quick research I found that there were several health benefits to hiking.
- Lower your risk of heart disease and cardiovascular disease, which are the first and third leading causes of death in the United States.
- Control your weight, tone your muscles and improve bone health.
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
- Improve balance by walking over uneven terrain.
- Clear your mind and improve cognitive abilities.
As someone who loves getting outdoors and hiking none of this comes as a surprise to me. I think we sometimes put off walking as exercise because it’s just walking, after all. But that’s what makes hiking so great. It’s accessible for someone who is out of shape, and if you are out of shape you might find comfort in the solitude of this exercise. It’s also an easy way to get in your exercise and reap the benefits of spending time in nature. Read more about the health benefits of spending time surrounded by trees in my post about Forest Bathing. Find out more about the health benefits of hiking at these links: