If you can walk you can hike. Hiking is a popular form of exercise. It can range from a simple walk in a nearby greenbelt to a long walk with a day pack. Then you can do a more arduous trail over a few days, camping or overnighting in huts along the route.
Post pandemic, hiking is an opportunity to spend time in nature and as winter approaches it presents an opportunity to view the Cosmos flowering in abundance. Clear your mind and get away from the screen, especially in today’s work from home culture. Over and above that is the fact that it is a full-body workout that is good for you as an addition to your other exercise routine. It’s also an opportunity to socialise as you meet new people or join a hiking club.
even on a moderate trail you will be using your large muscle groups and pushing your heart and lungs to work harder. This is good for all the obvious heart conditions and burns calories resulting in improved muscle tone and weight loss. Hiking also has less risk of injury often associated with high impact exercise. You will just feel better and less anxious after a decent hike.
And it presents the opportunity to take in the scenery as well as take a few pictures.
Your legs and spine get a good workout as well. The result is stronger glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Rough trails improve balance and reflexes and you will even notice the benefits in daily life. Look for inclines to improve leg strength.
And you are exposed to the sun, this creates Vitamin D and releases feel-good serotonin. The sun-centric benefits combined with a few hours of fresh air give you a recipe for good health. However, never neglect the use of sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. Sunglasses and a bandana are also a useful addition to one’s kit.
Take time out from urban life and get into nature, it enriches your overall quality of life.
Spend time amongst trees, enjoy the shade and see how deeply rooted we are with nature. And look for those hidden photo-worthy views and opportunities. It’s a constant reminder of the beauty around us. Studies have shown that taking time out and being at one with nature positively impacts mental health. There is less hustle and bustle, natural sights and sounds, an immersive experience that being indoors can not match, the rhythms are gentle. Add to this the endorphin rush of exercise and the feel-good serotonin and you have a recipe for happiness.
Then there is the all-important social interaction and the opportunity to share experiences and build connections. It’s a bonding opportunity especially if you expand your circle to include other fellow hikers.
Then we get to scale, at its base level hiking is nothing more than walking, start simple and move forward, build yourself by finding more trails and then look to challenge yourself. Should you have existing medical conditions get advice before pushing yourself. I always hike with a knee brace to protect against an old injury.
When breaking new ground prepare for your hike and research the trail. There is a wealth of information on the internet. Remember a few essentials’, a fully charged cell phone, a route map and a compass. Dress correctly and layer in winter, as you warm up remove the top layers. Good boots are important, they offer excellent ankle protection. And don’t forget a rain jacket or poncho, one never knows when the elements will turn against you. Stretch your legs and back before setting out to get muscles loose and warm. And don’t forget snacks and water. Remember if you can walk you can hike and if you can hike the sky is the limit!