In this article, I’m going to run through 11 benefits of hiking in nature.
A Mostly Free Way To Have A Lot Of Fun
Why do I say mostly free? Well, it takes gas money to drive to the trail and if you’re going to a state park you might need to pay a whopping 5 dollars per car. Other than that, hiking is literally one of the most fun cost-effective things in the world.
Boosts Your Mood & Helps Fight Depression
There are many study-backed reasons for why and how hiking boosts your mood. Researchers at Stanford in a study found walking in nature as opposed to walking in an urban area showed less activity in a part of the brain linked to depression. So while exercise in it itself helps boost your mood, studies suggest added there are added mental benefits if you’re walking in nature.
According to Michael Bednarz who’s a podiatric surgeon at Piedmont, hiking increases your endorphins which make you feel happy. He says “It strengthens the large muscles in your body while stimulating the feel-good chemical hormones of adrenaline and endorphins that boost your mood and energy levels.”
On top of that, you get a fair amount of sunshine giving you vitamin D which helps regulate mood. Normal Vitamin D levels, in general, will play a role in regulating your mood longer term, as well. And finally, aerobic exercise like hiking itself increases BDNF in the brain which also helps alleviate depression.
Considering most hikes you’re carrying a heavy backpack or trekking steep elevations, it can be a great way to improve your cardiovascular system.
Creates Many More Memorable Moments Than Staring At Your Stupid Phone
In my opinion, this is actually one of the most crucial benefits on this list. Do you really want to remember nothing but staring at your stupid phone for most of your days? No. Nobody wants that for their life.
And yes it is true that you’re probably reading this on your phone. But allow your phone to be a tool to positively impact your life not rule it. So use your phone as a tool that it is to text and schedule a hiking trip with your friends.
According to a ncbi.nlm.nih.gov study of 71 people, walking in a forest improved sleep for people that have problems sleeping. Lower levels of stress from hiking, which we’ll get to later, also play’s in improving sleep.
Hiking is a great way to get your friends together and hang out. I mean think about, if some of your friends need to be a little tight on the budget, rather than renting a boat or watching a movie at the theatre, go on a mostly free hike. And it’s not too to find people that don’t like hiking. But even if nobody can come along, trekking mountains or waterfalls are a great place to meet new friends. But if you’re an introvert and rather hike alone just ignore this part.
Builds Bone Density
Next up, hiking helps build bone density. Especially if you bring a backpack, hiking is a weight-bearing exercise that helps build strong bones.
Fun Way To Burn Calories
Next up, one of the obvious benefits of hiking is it burns calories. But burning calories hiking with new scenic views around every corner is a hell of a lot more fun than running on a treadmill.
Lowers Stress & Anxiety
Hiking reduces cortisol which is the stress hormone, quiets the mind with nature sounds, and increases endorphins that help with stress management.
The American Hiking Society claims that lack of physical exercise doesn’t allow a release of built-up adrenaline. If the adrenaline isn’t released, it causes muscle tension that leads to feelings of anxiety. Hiking is one way to release that adrenaline. But since most of us can’t hike every day, it’s also a good idea to exercise. Whether you join a gym or jog outside.
On top of that, The American Public Health Association says being around nature in it itself increases relaxation. Have you ever seen someone stressed out on a nature trail? Who gets stressed out in nature? I mean, maybe if you’re lost.
Also, the Stanford study cited earlier shows those who walked in nature for 1.5 hours were less likely to dwell on negative thoughts whereas those walking in an urban area for the same length of time still dwelled on negative thoughts.
Builds Lower Body Muscle
As I touched on earlier, hiking is a weight-bearing activity. And the added pounds with a backpack along with the consistent elevation changes certainly help build lower body muscle and a bit of your core.
Fresh Air & Sun
Being in the fresh air and sun is so much better than being in the same room you’re always in. I don’t have any studies to back this but breathing the fresh air of nature surrounded by oxygenating trees far from urban cities and roads, is awesome!
Summary | Benefits Of Hiking
To sum it up, the benefits of hiking are that it’s very healthy physically, great for your mind, makes you happier, it’s a lot of fun, and mostly free. And it’s always better with friends, so text them right now to schedule a little hiking trip.
If you’re looking for over-ear headphones, see our top picks here.
See the top made-in-USA sunglasses here.
Need a modern outdoor coffee table? See the top picks here.
Need an alarm clock? See the top choices here.