Find out how hiking has benefitted me bringing about a positive change in my life and discover the multitude of ways that this simple pastime can massively improve your life as well
Benefits of Hiking on My Life and What it Can do For You Too
I have been an outdoorsman for most of my life. I love gearing up and going out for a weekend trip to the mountains for some fly fishing and backpacking. I love every aspect of the natural world. The way it shapes and creates everything around us, how we humans are at the mercy of mother nature, no matter how amazing we have become, or how amazing we will become.
Everything about the wild just has me in awe. Being a writer for the outdoors industry, I am always overwhelmed at the amount of inspiration I can gather up from a day trip to the woods.
But being 24 years old and feeling the growing pains of life I don’t think I have ever appreciated being out in nature as much as I do now. With all the things I love to do outdoors, hiking is definitely my favorite activity. Not only do I love the physical challenge and mental clarity I gain from hiking, it’s the simplicity and low cost of hiking that really got me hooked.
After school I moved out and started doing the whole grown-up thing, you know, paying bills, going to work, dealing with people you don’t really like, and drifting away from past relationships. With all of these things just kind of hitting me at once, and with having barely enough money to pay rent, the overwhelming feeling of stress and anxiety took over.
But me trying to be an optimist strapped on my worn-out boots and took my broke ass to some local natural areas and started walking. During the next few years of my life, I was hiking constantly and the low cost and low gear requirements just made it so easy for me to get out. I was hiking local woodlands, bird sanctuaries, conservation properties, and all types of trails.
Although the bills never went away and the relationships were almost non-existent at this point, I still managed to find peace and clarity. Seriously, just going out for walks and disconnecting from the world for a couple of hours every day really helped me tame my stresses.
Not only did I feel myself become less stressed and less worried about the future, I gained confidence by learning skills and getting in touch with my more primitive self and learned how to trust who I am and what I can do.
This helped me to be more creative and understanding. Watching nature do its things and being part of its process, really gave me the swift kick in the ass I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and just enjoy my life.
How Hiking Will Help You
Hiking could be the most incredible thing for you. Besides amazing physical aspects, hiking also has incredible mental benefits as well. With so many people living in concrete jungles and having jobs that require long hours sitting in front of a screen, getting out of the city and disconnecting from technology even just for a day can make a huge difference in your life. Some of the amazing benefits of hiking and getting out in the wild are:
Many small studies have stated that just being in a green space – gardens, nature sanctuaries, even local parks – reduces stress levels. With stress management being a major issue for many people, a simple hike through a nearby green space may be just what the doctor ordered.
Hiking brings out a subconscious flow like mindset that comes so natural to us that we don’t even realize our brain is firing on all cylinders. We are taking in the sounds, the smells, the sights, and the movements of every observable thing on the trail.
That’s a lot to take in. One study shows that children who suffer from A.D.H.D have significantly improved focus after being in a park for just 20 minutes. I don’t know about you guys but with so much information being thrown at us on a daily basis, I find it hard to focus at times, but honestly just taking my dog out to the off-leash area near my house I find even that will improve my focus before I head back to the office.
Builds Strength and Cardio
Hiking in all environments requires strength. Using your leg and core muscles to help walk up steep hills, hop over rocks and logs, and maneuver through the trails requires a lot of power and balance. These large muscles and smaller supporting muscles that are being worked are key to having a healthy body.
Hiking also increases your cardiovascular health. Just one hour of hiking can burn up to 500 calories. Yup, you read that right. Just one hour hitting the trails can burn 500 calories. Not only do you get some needed fresh air you can also get jacked!
Having a creative roadblock? Take a hike. No seriously. Take a hike. Studies show that going for a hike and disconnecting from your daily stress has a great impact on your creativity. Not only that but it also helps you with problem-solving.
Having creative problem-solving skills is a great benefit for anyone. So next time you feel like reaching for that hot cup of coffee to get your brain boosted maybe take it to go and have yourself a caffeine-induced hike making you a creative beast.
Reduced Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
With mental health being one of the major issues being talked about in the modern world, people are always looking for ways to tame their busy mind, and with so many great mental benefits, there is no question that hiking is one way to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Doctors talk about the benefits of hiking and how being in nature can reduce rumination. Rumination is the constant thought of something, and these constant thoughts can often make us feel dis-ease and overwhelmed causing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The studies show that being in nature truly does help with the feeling of being overwhelmed by constant chatter. With my own experiences, I can vouch for this big time. This is not medical advice. I encourage anyone who thinks they are suffering from mental illness to consult a professional.
Ok, so nature has inspired some of the most amazing things in our world. Everything from beautiful art pieces like Van Gogh’s Irises, to our most technological advances. When you look up and see a plane flying high you can’t help but think that the Wright brothers were inspired by soaring birds.
It’s amazing to see how much of our human success was inspired by nature. How just going for a walk through your local park may give you the time to think about your next big idea, or how listening to a mountain stream and colorful birds chirping can inspire you to create songs or beautiful pieces of art. With humans being a product of nature it’s no wonder it inspires our daily life.
Disconnect From Technology
Unless you live with an uncontacted tribe in the middle of the Amazon, technology has impacted your life every day and will probably continue to do so. We carry computers in our pockets that know everything about us, sending us reminders constantly. Beeping and buzzing that has us refreshing our pages to get the newest dose of what’s hot.
Sometimes you just have to say, ‘screw it, I don’t care’ and disconnect. This feeling of disconnecting from technology is incredibly liberating. It gives you the opportunity to be alone and really think clearly.
Hiking is great for this freedom from technology for the pure fact that most of the time you just don’t have service, and don’t worry everything is going to be alright and you don’t need to rush back and see what your friends are up to on Instagram or the latest cat videos.
Give yourself some love and sit down on that wet rock and feel the air, smell the trees, and listen to the sounds of the natural world. Trust me, you need it more than you think.
Makes You More Confident
Hiking is one of those things that just kind of unknowingly makes you a stronger person. With it being so physical and so mental you get amazing bi-products like confidence. It truly does help you push your limits, makes you have to trust yourself, face your fears, and even builds relationships.
All of these things will make you more confident in taking on daily tasks, face situations, and deal with confrontations making you a stronger person. Hiking = confidence.
In my experience within my own life, I have undoubtedly had hiking impact me in the most positive ways possible. With all of the great studies conveyed backing up the effects hiking has on humans, there is no question that it is definitely something we need to do more of.
But what are your thoughts? How has hiking helped you? Do you have any amazing stories you want to share? Leave a comment below and let’s inspire one another to get out and get wild.