Last updated June 2, 2022
Hiking is one of those activities that’s difficult to beat: it combines exercise with fresh air all while being out in mother nature and provides us with the tools to create a path to well-being.
There are so many benefits to hiking. Not only will it increase fitness levels but it’s the outdoor experience, surrounded by nature, that also promotes mental well-being.
It has the ability to build relationships, lower stress levels, increase creativity as well as make us fitter, stronger and more mobile.
Hiking can just about be the best anecdote to our busy and sedentary lifestyles today. If you’ve been toying around with the idea of taking up hiking or even if it’s never crossed your mind, keep reading for how you can hike your way to a place of thriving well-being.
How To Hike Your Way To Well Being
Taking up the sport as a beginner or getting back into it as an experienced hiker can put you on the path to well-being.
Oftentimes people just think about the physical benefits of hiking but this outdoor activity also comes with many benefits for mental wellness too.
These are just some ways hiking can help you become healthier:
It gets you moving.
Plain and simple, hiking gets you moving. You get yourself up from behind a screen and into nature. Whether you choose an intense trail or a gentle stroll in the mountains you’re moving your body either way.
Hiking also gets your body moving in all different directions. Activities like running, lunging or squatting have you moving either up and down or forward and back.
With hiking, you’re moving in just about all directions which help to work, condition and stabilize your muscles protecting you from common, everyday injuries.
There’s also no bailing out. While you might get bored at the gym and just call it a day and head to the showers, with hiking you can’t just give up mid-hike, meaning you’re always going to complete what you set out to do.
That sense of accomplishment and elation at the end releases those much-needed ‘happy’ endorphins.
It teaches confidence and self-reliance.
Going out for a hike alone can seem daunting at first, but you’ll quickly see that you are completely able to plan, execute and enjoy a hike all by yourself.
If you’re someone who suffers from a lack of self-confidence, such experiences can be vital to realize that you really can do anything you set your mind to.
You’re building endurance without even realizing it.
Hiking can burn the same amount of calories per hour as running at a speed of 5 mph. Running at that pace however, might feel boring and repetitive.
When hiking for well-being, on the other hand, there’s plenty to keep you busy; a rock obstacle course on the way up or an interesting chat with a friend, stopping to take photos or have a snack and even the jaw-dropping scenery.
With so many distractions you won’t realize that you’re actually working the muscles and building endurance.
With jumping over rocks, balancing while carrying a heavy backpack and tacking resistance on inclines you’re making your body stronger and fitter with each step.
It’s a great way to make friends and build relationships.
This much-loved activity around the world has many communities you can join to meet like-minded people to hike with in your area.
This means that you don’t have to go alone if you don’t want to. Hiking will allow you to meet and bond with new people in your area and explore new places with them.
If you already have a group of hiking or active friends then going for a hike with them can strengthen your relationship as you navigate the trails and solve outdoor problems together.
Or, consider a hiking vacation somewhere new.
Hiking can bring joy and happiness.
When you reach the top of the mountain and gaze down at the incredible view or dive into a waterfall pool at the end of a sweaty hike you encourage a bond with nature that stands for freedom and joy.
Research shows that those who interact with nature regularly have lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Hiking also releases endorphins that lift our spirits. Nature has a way of calming us and reminding us of the bigger picture, that we are just a small part of the larger whole.
Top Hiking Tips for Beginners
Invest in the right gear.
Before taking to the trails, you’ll want to have the right gear. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on the latest outdoor brands but there are a few items you should consider investing in. The most important thing is hiking boots.
Rather than buying them online, I highly recommend going to a store to have them fitted as your feet will prefer some brands over others.
Make sure to wear them in before going on any longer hikes. Having comfortable footwear when hiking is one of the most important parts of the experience- it can really make or break a hike.
Other items worth investing in are a good rain jacket, backpack, fleece for colder weather hiking and of course, a high quality, reusable water bottle for sustainable hiking.
Bring enough food and water.
You don’t want to run out of food and water, especially water when hiking. It goes without saying that you’ll need to bring more water for warmer weather hiking than colder weather but you need to bring enough and then a little extra for emergencies too.
It’s worth having a water bottle with a filter for hiking which will allow you to safely drink water from rivers or streams. It’s a great backup for if you run out of water and 100% sustainable.
Choose the right trail for you.
If you’ve just started hiking to get fitter and healthier, you should probably start with beginner trails.
Choosing a trail that’s inappropriate for your level of fitness is a sure way to discourage you from hiking forever.
It’s better to start at the beginner level and if it’s too easy you can choose an intermediate trail next time. This way you’ll still have that sense of achievement and confidence for finishing your first trail with ease.
Plan your hike in advance.
It’s a good idea to be prepared when hiking. Planning your hike ahead will allow you to check your route and see if there are any dangers on it to consider, such as wild animals.
When checking the weather along the route you can also see how much food, water and gear you’ll need and planning will give you a chance to share your route with someone at home in case of emergency.
All in all, hiking is a great way to increase fitness and endurance while also reaping the mental health benefits through nature immersion. Are you ready to hike your way to greater well-being?