This article on hiking benefits is especially useful for beginners who are just getting into this life-changing activity. If you are curious to know what hiking has in store for you besides burning your calories, read on!
(Disclosure: Hiya super-hiking-star! Certain links to products and/or services are affiliate links, and I may earn a commission for any purchases that you make. This will not be at any cost to you.)
Table of Contents
- 1 Content Table – Top 10 Benefits of Hiking Guide:
- 2 Introduction to This Guide
- 3 What Is Hiking?
- 4 Hiking vs Trekking
- 6 Hiking Benefits That You Should Know
- 7 1. Hiking Helps You Improve Fitness and Overall Health
- 8 2. Hiking Is Your Ultimate Stress Buster
- 9 3. Hiking Heals, Prevents and Improves Many Medical Conditions
- 10 4. You Get to Discover New Places
- 11 5. Hiking Is a Journey of Self-Discovery
- 12 6. Hiking Boosts Your Creativity
- 14 7. Hiking Helps You Meet New People
- 16 8. Hiking Builds Your Character
- 17 9. Hiking Helps You Love Our Planet More
- 18 10. Hiking Makes You Feel More Positive and Energetic
- 20 How to Get Into Hiking
- 21 How to Get the Best Out of Your Hike
- 22 Sources:
Content Table – Top 10 Benefits of Hiking Guide:
Introduction to This Guide
If you are considering hiking but still lack a dose of motivation…
If you are just starting out and are not sure if hiking is for you…
If you are done with postponing your adventures…
Let me tell you, we’ve all been there! Delaying our adventures and daydreaming without deciding to act on them.
If you’ve read any of the articles in this blog, you know I love hiking. It resets my brain, makes me feel connected, and part of something bigger. Hiking brings me back into the present. And still, many times I’m carried away by daily-life and neglect making the time to go for a hike. So this article is not just for you, but also for me!
Sometimes, what we need is a good ounce of motivation. Maybe you can connect with hiking by reading inspiring quotes, learning about its benefits, or keeping a journal as you start getting ready. So! Today, I’m here to boast about 10 awesome health benefits of hiking -that you could start experiencing now.
If you have friends who are avid hikers, you would have already heard many stories from their experiences.
Sometimes, you would even wonder how an adventure so tedious can make people feel super excited to do it again and again and again! Well, here’s the secret. Hiking is not just a workout for your legs. There’s just SO MUCH more to it.
Hiking, I find especially for us women -who have been led to believe we are not strong enough- is a journey where we discover our true self, which can, sometimes, even challenge our limits.
What Is Hiking?
The term hiking refers, basically, to go on walks in the wilderness. There are different types of hiking, so let’s take a quick look at the main ones, which can come handy when planning.
You’ve got day hikes, overnight hikes, and multi-day or backpacking hikes. If you take it up a notch, you have thru-hikes -long, loooong trails- and section hikes -this is when you take on a section on a long trail.
Hiking vs Trekking
Let us not overthink this. In general lines, the term trekking involves an arduous hike. You may go off-trail or explore remote terrain, calling for more of an advanced technique.
As I was doing my research for this article, I came across differences in the duration of a walk. For example, a hike is short, a trek is overnight. But then, when thinking on the practicalities, I realized…a hike is a hike! I can be long, short, technical, or easy. You-name-it.
The bottom line is, many of us these terms interchangeably together with backpacking and tramping -depending on which country you are.
Hiking Benefits That You Should Know
Back to our guide! I believe everyone should kick off their busy life once in a while and enjoy some time in the wilderness. But, if you are not convinced -or again, you are slowly getting into it-, here are some top benefits of hiking to motivate your next adventure.
Some of the benefits on this list could apply to many other activities too. It’s important to note that hiking adds the element of contact with nature, without the risks and exigencies of, for example, biking.
To me, hiking is the perfect balance between feeling adventurous and safe at the same time -again, this will depend on how technical the hike is, but you get the idea!
It’s also an affordable activity, plus you don’t need a lot of expensive gear to get started.
1. Hiking Helps You Improve Fitness and Overall Health
Hiking, in the simplest sense, is a great form of exercise for your body. It works out every muscle improving your overall agility. It also strengthens your core and stamina, allowing you to increase your walking pace without feeling too tired.
As hiking enhances both your upper and lower body strength, it is considered a holistic form of exercise. Studies have shown that walking leads to increased bone density making you less prone to severe injuries and fractures. It also lowers your blood pressure and boosts your immune system.
2. Hiking Is Your Ultimate Stress Buster
If you are dealing with increased stress and anxiety -hello, that’s me!- hiking can be the best natural remedy. As hiking reconnects you with nature and transports you away from chaotic settings, it helps to calm your body.
The act of hiking in nature also lowers blood pressure relieving stress considerably. Studies have proven that hiking benefits you by elevating your spirits through the release of endorphins, helping you remain in a positive mood throughout the day. You would feel happier, excited, and satisfied thanks to your wellbeing hormones. The impact of hiking lasts longer, so prepare for feeling happy and content even days after your walk.
3. Hiking Heals, Prevents and Improves Many Medical Conditions
Health-related hiking benefits extend far beyond stress-relief. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases by giving your heart the right dose of workout it needs. It also aids in controlling high blood pressure, diabetes, and lowering the risk of cancer. Hiking is also great for healthy weight loss. If you are someone who is experiencing insomnia or sleeping disorders, hiking can help you sleep like a baby! You can also feed yourself some vitamin D by starting your hike early morning!
4. You Get to Discover New Places
As your enthusiasm towards hiking grows, you will choose new trails in different regions. Sometimes, hiking expeditions mean going as far as to another continent, where you get to experience diverse nature and settings.
So, hiking allows you to travel and explore a slew of nature-bound destinations. Also, hiking in new places will allow you to learn about new environments, cultures, and traditions in a highly active way.
Even going on a short hike -either in your own country or overseas- will impact your overall wellbeing!
5. Hiking Is a Journey of Self-Discovery
Would you believe me if I say hiking is a form of enlightenment that helps you figure out a lot of aspects in life? I haven’t talked about this openly a lot, but I’ve always been prone to anxiety.
Of course, so many of us go through this nowadays. Over time my anxiety turned into panic attack symptoms -heart racing and the feeling of not being able to breathe. I only had two full-blown panic attacks, but whenever I fall into brain overload, I can feel it building up.
In a way, I always felt pushed to do more and more. Making time for hiking -even if only a 1-hour uphill walk- became, together with yoga, my connection to the Earth, its rhythms, and its wisdom.
If you have a troubled mind -I mean…who isn’t in a way or another!?- I highly recommend you take some time off and go on a hiking trip. There’s really no age to get into hiking, a you’ll progress within your own abilities. Spend time with nature, contemplate what you need in life, and put things in perspective!
6. Hiking Boosts Your Creativity
Interestingly, hiking is a great way to get your creative juices flowing while improving your attention span at the same time! The science behind this is that hiking increases the flow of oxygen into your brain, stimulating your thinking. It’s also when you take a most-needed break from the constant use of technology and leave your gadgets home. You would be more observant, attentive, and thoughtful. Creativity is one of the many unique hiking benefits you may not have guessed until now!
7. Hiking Helps You Meet New People
Meeting like-minded people who treasure the environment, enjoy hiking, and believe in adventures as much as you do is the best! You can exchange information and learn so much from each other. Whether you hike solo or with a group, you can build a network with fellow hikers to share stories and grow as a hiker yourself. Among other things, hiking also helps to build social skills where you learn to interact, communicate, and collaborate.
8. Hiking Builds Your Character
Hiking is not just a walk in the woods! As you begin to hike more frequently, you will find yourself to be more organized, planned, forward-thinking, and disciplined.
The obstacles that you anticipate and face during a hike build self-confidence, patience, and improve problem-solving skills. Every act involved in hiking -from gathering your hiking gear to thriving out in the woods- improves your character. Hiking is an exciting personal development tool.
It sounds cliche but again, there’s no age to get started. Simply ensure to get the best tips and insights to get into hiking from an expert -so you can prepare with confidence. Other than that, you’ll learn from experience!
9. Hiking Helps You Love Our Planet More
One of the dark aspects of the rapid industrialization the world is going through is the damage done to the environment. We are facing many issues like climate change, global warming, and the massive plastic crisis because we have sought for convenience at the expense of nature.
One of the hiking benefits is improved awareness about these issues. If you get into the habit of hiking and reconnect with nature, you will realize its importance for our survival.
You would develop a sense of close bond with nature and find solace hiking in the wilderness. Eventually, you will learn to accommodate to environmental-friendly practices.
It’s hard not to bite our tails when touching on these topics -so much of our hiking gear is not entirely eco-friendly. So we must be aware as consumers and purchase only the gear we will use. Make sure to find out the best ways to dispose of, recycle, or gift these once you know you will not use them anymore.
Another thing I’ve noticed is how hiking -and also camping- teaches us how we really don’t need much to be happy and thrive.
10. Hiking Makes You Feel More Positive and Energetic
Hiking takes you off from the daily routine and adds a thrilling punch to your life. So, if you feel like you have been living an inactive lifestyle, get into hiking.
It makes you feel more energetic, active, and positive -crucial for your mental wellbeing! It can even improve your productivity at work, allowing you to achieve career goals better. This way, hiking can be a source of motivation for you to embark on new ventures and look at things from different perspectives.
As hiking improves endurance and builds character, it’s easy to extrapolate its benefits into other aspects of your life.
How to Get Into Hiking
Want to experience the maximum hiking benefits?
First of all, ensure you are well prepared for the hike so that you won’t be exposed to dangers. If you are a beginner, here are some tips to make your first hike successful -and gear up for more to come!
Start with a short hike for about 1 or 2 hours by picking an easy and popular trail. This way, you would be aware of the route beforehand. If you are working on building your skills, try to hike the same track a couple of times and take note of your progress.
Prepare a list of essential hiking gear. Planning is essential for any hike. It helps you be more prepared and, therefore less vulnerable. The type of gear you’ll bring will depend on the nature of the trail and weather conditions.
Wear appropriate clothing and shoes. The wrong clothes or hiking boots can make you feel uncomfortable, and you would soon be thinking of giving up! Ideally, hiking calls for moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep your body adequately warm. If you need more help, check out my guide on what to wear hiking!
Focus on how you are planning to maintain your energy throughout the hike. This includes a proper meal plan, adequate rest breaks, and constant hydration.
How to Get the Best Out of Your Hike
Now that you have learned about the top hiking benefits, here are some ways to make your journey fun and more productive!
While finishing the hike within the planned duration is great, spending time enjoying the surrounding is also equally important. Don’t hesitate to pause, look around, and admire the wilderness surrounding you.
If you are familiar with hiking, you can also add a few activities to your hikes. Yoga, reading, swimming, and even painting -like Rachel, the friend I made on the Queen Charlotte Track!- are awesome. It would not only be a fresh experience but also help you spend more time with nature.
Pick advanced routes as you begin to hike more often. Hiking in tough trails can be arduous, but once you reach the summit of a peak or base of a canyon – the sense of achievement is immeasurable. If a route is too hard, you can always go back. Don’t push it!
Hike with friends. Unless you prefer to go solo -which is great too!-, hiking is more enjoyable when you go with a group of people or with a hiking-buddy/partner. You will also receive support when navigating through the route.
Whenever possible, try to keep a steady pace. I talk at length about this on this guide to estimating hiking speed. Better walk slow and stop less rather than rushing and getting super-tired. Managing your energy levels on a hike is a must.
Hey u! I’m Martina, from Argentina. I’ve been combining travel and life overseas since 2013 in a quest for living alongside with creativity, joy and personal growth.
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