Take a hike! It’s literally awesome for your mind, body and soul. Hiking is probably one of the most underrated exercises out there because people tend to think it’s easy and you won’t burn as much calories to stay in shape due to all of the walking, stopping to look at the flowers and stopping to marvel at mother nature’s handywork.
But any form of exercise is better than zero, and a hiker who logs in half a day on the trail is doing way better in terms of overall health and well-being when compared to a person of the same age who logs in half a day sitting in front of a computer updating his social media accounts and eating a Twinkie.
If you’re still not convinced that hiking is the bomb, here are 7 reasons why going on a hike is the best thing you can do for yourself today and for the rest of your life.
- Disconnect from All Things Electronic – Yes, you love your smartphone and can’t live without it. You also love your tablet, laptop, desktop PC, gaming console, LED TV, coffee maker and whatever electronics you have at home. Taking a full day hike will allow you to completely disengage from all of it and just have your thoughts to yourself. No distractions from social media alerts, no annoying text messages – just you, your thoughts and the beauty of mother nature. Bring your phone during a hike for emergencies, but turn it off until you get home. Don’t block out the natural sounds with headphones either.
- Reconnect with All Things Natural – There’s something about being outdoors that makes you feel good, calm and relaxed. Hiking on a nature trail is good for the soul. It refreshes you if you’re weary from the week’s hectic schedule and allows you to contemplate a little bit more on life.
- Hiking is Healthy – Studies have shown that hiking lowers the risk of breast and colon cancer. It’s also a good form of cardiovascular exercise to keep your heart and lungs healthy. It reduces the risk of heart disease, hypertension and can help you lose weight. The fresh air can help you breathe a little better, and being around nature has been known to to alleviate symptoms of depression.
- It’s Cheap – Hiking is one of those activities where you need very little gear to start and have fun. Unlike other hobbies such as cycling or sport fishing, where you need a bike or lots of fishing gear, all you need to hike are a pair of sneakers, a small backpack and a map or GPS device that can download topographical maps (if you need it, all topo maps of Canada can be found here). If you have an old pair of hiking boots or trail running shoes lying around, go ahead and wear them! If you’re just beginning and the trail is pretty light, sneakers are fine. Your backpack just needs to carry the essentials such as water, light snacks, your camera and your phone for emergencies.
- There’s No Learning Curve – If you can walk to the nearest donut shop, there’s no reason why you can’t go hiking. Hiking is pretty much walking, but with a twist of meandering through a trail or path. There could be some level changes or obstacles, but these will be almost nonexistent on well travelled trails.
- No Special Skills Required – There’s absolutely no special skill you have to master other than walking. Think of it like this: hiking evens the playing field. If you go hiking with Ronaldo, Lebron James and Serena Williams, you won’t necessarily be the worst hiker. They may be a little faster than you, but hiking is not a race, and you’ll all end up winners regardless of who reaches the end of the trail first.
- Make New Friends – Hikers are a friendly bunch, and you’ll meet a lot of genuinely good people out enjoying the trails. If you join a hiking club, you’ll get to meet even more people and will get the chance to go on group hikes together.
Hiking is a great activity that’s affordable and easy to master. You can literally go anywhere if you want to hike. Local parks have trails that a lot of avid hikers use. You can try harder trails that take longer if you feel you’re fit enough, but the beauty of hiking is everything happens at your own pace. No blackbelts, no handicaps, no speed records.
Just you and nature on a beautiful day.