Why does hiking make you feel good? There are many benefits of hiking. In this article we will discuss how it can add value to your life in four areas.
In This Article
Physical Benefits of Hiking
To be healthy and fit, you need to exercise regularly. There are many fun ways to stay active, but hiking offers an exciting way to exercise in the great outdoors. If you’re not sure about hiking, there are several reasons why it’s a great form of exercise.
There are many physical benefits to hiking, which makes it an engaging activity that can help you get fit and stay healthy.
1. Lose Weight
If your primary goal is weight loss, hiking can help. It gives your body the activity it needs while burning off calories at the same time. You don’t have to be hiking for long periods of time in order to lose weight. Even just a short, 30-minute hike can burn up to 200 calories.
Hiking is also a low impact activity, which puts less stress on your joints than other forms of exercise, such as running or biking.
Although there are different levels of hiking, even a beginner can reap the benefits. As you get more advanced, you’ll start to see more results. You can take hikes that are up to 10 miles long and gain strength in your legs and cardiovascular system while enjoying fresh air outside.
2. Get in Better Shape
Just as hiking helps you lose weight, it also helps you get in better shape. The main reason for this is that your body burns off more calories than usual. Your heart rate also increases during a hike, which is one of the ways to get into shape.
It is better than simply walking because you use different muscle groups when you hike.
3. Strengthen Your Core Muscles
One of the benefits of hiking is that it strengthens your core muscles. These are the muscle groups in and around your hips, legs, lower back and abdomen. To strengthen your core muscles, you need to be engaged in activities that can help you balance as you climb up and down hills while hiking.
Strong core muscles help to stabilize your pelvis so you can stand upright. Without strong core muscles, your body can’t absorb shock and manage movement as effectively.
No matter where you plan on hiking, from a local park to a mountain trail, you’ll enjoy this mental and physical boost.
Hiking is a great form of exercise, but it’s also an exciting way to explore the great outdoors. If you’re not sure about hiking, start with a short hike and see how long you can last. As you get stronger, you’ll find that hiking is a great activity to fit into your busy schedule.
Psychological Benefits of Hiking
Mountain hiking provides many psychological and emotional benefits to those who enjoy the solitude and beauty nature has to offer. Here are three things being outdoors will do for you.
1. Releases endorphins and other ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain.
A series of studies conducted by Dr. Michael Miller and his colleagues at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, found that hikers are happier after a hike than before they started. After analyzing eight different studies, Dr. Miller concluded that hiking can create an immediate increase in a person’s mood and well-being due to the release of endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good chemicals) during physical activity.
2. It clears helps you clear your mind.
The combination of being outside in nature with very little sensory input helps hikers feel more creative and less focused on the stresses from everyday life in cities and suburbs, according to research by Peter Kahn of the University of Washington at Seattle.
3. Helps reduce or eliminate stress.
Hiking can help us cope with stress in a healthy way—by giving us time to reflect on our lives and our goals. “The physical exertion distracts you from whatever is going on,” says Brian Artese, a clinical psychologist in Boston . “For many, this is the only time during the day when they are not being interrupted by e-mail, cellphones, Blackberries.”
Artese says that patients often come to him with back problems because of all the sitting they do all day. “When I ask them if they exercise, they say no because of time constraints, and so it ends up being a vicious cycle.
“If you do half an hour to an hour of moderate activity a day, it can make a huge difference,” Artese says.
Spiritual Benefits of Hiking
Hikers, it seems, are a particularly spiritual breed of people. Maybe it’s because when you’re on a long hike you have to leave so much behind, including your phone, email and the voices of your daily life telling you what to do and who to be.
What is left is your mind and body working together in the very physical world. You see your body growing tired. You feel the aches of your muscles. Your mind wanders a little. And your heart is open to all sorts of thoughts — some big, some small, some silly and others that carry great wisdom.”
Three spiritual benefits of hiking include:
I. It allows you to get in touch with yourself.
A long hike on a secluded trail will allow you to see what is inside of you. It may be your deepest fears, your greatest joys, your inner strength and weaknesses. It is very rewarding when you realize how much more there is to yourself than what appears on the surface.
Whether you hike in the city or the mountains, the woods have a way of putting things into perspective and helping us understand our place in this world.
That’s true for all walks of life, but especially so for hikers. You’re out there every day, deep in the wonders of creation. That experience builds a relationship with nature that can help inform and enrich your everyday life.
2. It builds an appreciation of nature.
Taking time to watch a hawk circling overhead, a fox frolicking in the woods, a squirrel scampering up a tree will open your eyes to what is all around you and help you appreciate it more deeply.
To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug. —Helen Keller
Hiking takes you out of the hustle and bustle of life and puts you in touch with the earth. Your brain is able to rest, and your body is able to use all of its senses. You get fresh air-the kind that helps clear your head. Hiking allows you to slow down, even for just a few hours, and enjoy your surroundings without a cell phone, computer or other distractions from life.
3. It will help you experience God’s handiwork.
During our Colorado days, we would often get up early, drive a mile or so to a bluff that overlooked the ‘Garden of the Gods’ park, and watch the sun rise. There was something majestic about how the sun glistened off the red rocks. It was a spiritual experience.
In the quietness of the morning we would thank God for His goodness and pray for our day.
My wife and I are believers and enjoy our local church. We are very involved. But there is nothing as worshipful for us as spending time with God in the mountains. I realize everyone is different. For us, connecting with God in nature is part of our spiritual experience.
Social Benefits of Hiking
It is amazing how hiking brings people together. Not only are there psychological benefits to being outdoors, it also opens us up to deeper relationship experiences.
Here are three often-overlooked relational benefits of hiking:
1. Connect with others who enjoy the outdoors
Everyone knows that spending time in nature is good for both body and mind.
Hiking is one of most accessible activities to reap these benefits.
According to the Outdoor Foundation, 63% of Americans participate in outdoor recreation at least a few times a year.
People who hike are more spontaneous, independent, creative, and social than those who don’t. These are all characteristics that make hiking such an enjoyable pastime.
Hiking can open you up to a diverse community of people who enjoy the outdoors.
When you are hiking, you develop the freedom to explore your surroundings and to connect with those around you. The physical exertion of the hike provides a sense of relief that allows us to feel more relaxed. This often leads us into deeper conversations with people that we would not have otherwise had.
2. Provides an opportunity to connect with friends away from distractions.
There are several benefits that come with reducing distractions and being outside.
For one, it is easier to focus on people around you when we are all together in a similar situation. We tend to be more open when we are not rushed.
When you have a small group of friends out on a hike, you will most likely find yourself laughing, engaging in deeper conversations, and talking about things that never came up before. Hiking provides an opportunity for authentic conversations with friends.
We live in a culture that often defines friendships in terms of Facebook likes, Instagram followers, or Tik-Toc views. Being outdoors helps us realize the true value of friendships and connect in a real way.
3. Allows you to get to know someone on a deeper level.
There is something about the peace and quiet that comes with hiking that makes people more comfortable sharing their thoughts. We become more open and honest. We are not confined by any particular schedule or structure. When we are all in the same boat, we tend to appreciate each other more and are less critical of what others have to say.
These benefits of hiking, especially when combined with a group, allow you to get to know someone on a deeper level.
While we may end up talking about the trails, scenery, and wildlife around us, there is an opportunity to discuss our hopes and dreams. We are more open to sharing our personal struggles and successes.
We can also share what in particular about the hike is meaningful to us. This gives us a chance to know each other more deeply and respect those who are important in our lives.
Hiking can provide an opportunity for us to connect with friends or loved ones. It allows for authentic conversation and deeper relationships. Hiking can also help us get to know someone on a deeper level.
Why is it important to have connections? Research shows that having close relationships reduces stress, boosts happiness, enhances longevity and even improves physical health!
The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) found that women who have a strong social network are more likely to live longer. This led PIRE researcher John Cacioppo to conclude that strong connectedness can be a powerful buffer against stress.
Final Thoughts on Why Hiking Makes You Feel Good
Why does hiking make you feel good? It helps us connect. We connect to ourself by taking the time to exercise our body and detox our mind.
We connect with nature by experiencing the beauty and grandness of the outdoors.
We connect with God becaues we appreciate creation and spend time in solitude enjoying His presence.
And we connect with others through a shared experience away from the distractions of our busy lives.
If you are looking for new connection with yourself, God and others, hiking can be a great choice. Not only is it fun and relaxing, but you will also find yourself feeling more connected to friends and loved ones.