Take a Walk In the Woods – Hiking Physical and Mental Health Benefits

Jean Danhong Chen walking in the woods

Alone, without a dog or friend attached to your hip, walking for the sake of exercise is often viewed as a tedious exercise. Although it might not be the most enjoyable method of a cardiovascular routine, it still promotes good health. When you’ve walked enough miles to grow tired of seeing city landscapes, hiking can be a superb alternative, offering you terrific views, and close encounters with nature. Just like any other activity, hiking ranges from basic, easy-to-follow routes to challenging paths that feature inclines, declines and rough, rocky terrain.

Some of the well-documented perks from hiking include a lower risk of heart disease, improved blood pressure and blood sugar levels, better bone density, increased strength in the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip muscles and lower legs, a solid core, greater balance, a boost in overall mood and assisting in controlling one’s weight. 

Jean Danhong Chen, a resident of California, where hiking has become a tremendously popular pastime, has detailed a few more reasons as to why it is such a powerful activity, particularly in helping our health and motivation levels. 

Hiking Refreshes The Mind & Reduces Stress 

Life is filled with obligations and distractions, so it is no wonder that stress levels can soar in an instant. Between work, social life and personal life, it feels like there is always something that you should be doing and that can add a lot of stress to your life. A daily hike diminishes stress and cortisol levels, bringing a state of relaxation that accompanies the introduction of nature into your sightline. 

Hiking Creates Happiness

Ruminations are deemed to be negative thought patterns replayed in our heads, focusing on humiliation, disappointment or general failures experienced at some point in our lives. Exposure to nature decreases this thinking process, instead bringing us to delight in our surroundings and frame of mind. Looking back on it later, you might realize that happiness was easier to attain than you ever believed. 

Hiking Improves Sleep Quality

Jean Danhong Chen notes that an underwhelming, uncomfortable sleep can often be attributed to a lack of exercise. It is worth noting that climbing or walking over uneven terrain requires 28 percent additional energy compared to what we utilize on flat surfaces. Your brain is increasingly activated because every step presents a measure of trickiness, whereas a normal ground allows you to almost move in an ‘autopilot’ mode. Due to this, hiking is a great exercise to partake in if you want to improve your sleep.

Hiking Enhances Your Memory

Studies have proven that people who consistently hike, or find themselves in nature’s presence, are coming away with a better memory and recollection. Again, it boils down to letting your mind rest and recharge after countless hours facing a screen or in the workplace. 

Hiking Reduces Anxiety & Depression

Hiking can be an escape valve of sorts, separating you from worrying anxiety or depression. Jean Danhong Chen recommends that during your hike you concentrate on your breathing, keeping it relatively steady and calm, while relieving, even if it is temporarily, your day-to-day stresses. Fittingly, it’s also cheaper than heading to a psychologist’s office, lying loosely on a couch and discussing your personal life. 

Hiking Can Solve Dilemmas 

Researchers attest that, in a period when we are constantly receiving a barrage of information, notified of any minor update, our brains are overwhelmed by it all. This dampens our cognitive resources, putting a restraint on our creative energy and problem-solving capabilities. Basically, a mental block is there. Leave the cell phone at the house and connect with nature, which will restore your attention to those details that eluded you earlier. 

Stay Safe When Hiking

Of course, it is important that you do not just hike off into the unknown without a plan, a map and some means of finding out where you are. Today, a sensible hiker will always use GPS trackers to be sure that they are not drifting off the beaten track. Remember to also always have a backup mobile device and backup battery, as phones and batteries have a tendency to fail at precisely the point when they are needed most!

Hiking Furthers Our Generosity

Although we often take it for granted, nature always astonishes us with its beauty, makes us appreciative. Following time spent in nature, our renewed optimism elevates our gratefulness and increases the generosity that we display for others. 

Hiking Reconnects You With Yourself

As we constantly strive to appease people, such as work superiors, family members or significant others, our actual selves are forgotten. Has our diet become a succession of poor choices? Do we feel fatigued often? Is our exercise commitment satisfactory? A hike permits you to take notice of yourself, think of your recent moods and reflect on how you can alter any negative patterns. 

Jean Danhong Chen concludes that hiking can be an extremely rewarding activity, not just from a fitness perspective but also for your mental health.

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