If You Hate The Gym… Take a Hike!

In the modern world where gym memberships and personal trainers are not necessarily a luxury anymore but a necessity and the number of affordable 24/7 sport centers and free, effective workout videos are countless one might think NOT being physically active is just a result of being lazy.

Even with so many options, physical activity is still a choice we have to make and commit to. And some of us simply hate going to the gym but that doesn’t mean there are no enjoyable exercise options for you. 

I personally love various forms of physical activity including yoga and cycling outdoors but actually my favorite way to get my body moving is to take a hike. Hiking has a lot going for it. Let’s take a look at the many glorious benefits of taking a hike.

You Can Hike (Almost) Year Round
Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way. – Dr. Seuss

While it may not be your ideal to hike on an especially warm or cold day, as long as you have no special health concerns and are adequately prepared with enough water in the summer and warm clothes in the winter almost anytime is a good time of year to go hiking. Although admittedly, nothing is more beautiful than a peak spring or fall hike! 

Hiking is Full On

Walking is great exercise, but you know what’s even better? That’s right, hiking! Walking on a flat surface doesn’t demand a lot of effort. But when you walk across uneven terrain like a hiking trail, it takes more effort and balance. This additional effort increases your heart rate and your metabolic rate which translates into torching those calories.

Hiking is Affordable

While you can certainly go nuts buying all kinds of specialized hiking gear, you really don’t need much to hit the trail. Footwear is the most important thing. You don’t need the most expensive pair of trail shoes or hiking boots you can find. All you need is a pair, even a pair sturdy sneakers that is comfortable for you. 

A reusable water bottle is recommended for even short hikes. If you’re venturing out for several hours, you might want to bring a small backpack to hold additional bottles of water and a few trail snacks. Boiled eggs, sugar free dried fruit, and nuts are all good, inexpensive choices. 

Your Brain Loves Going on a Hike

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul. – John Muir

Spending time in nature has been shown to decrease churning thoughts which are linked with anxiety and depression. When you’re hiking in a beautiful environment, you’re able to focus on what you’re doing, being careful not to trip over a gnarled tree root or deciding where to place your foot to clamber up a rocky surface. 

And your brain is too busy to worry about the report your boss is expecting or the piles of laundry you’ve not gotten around to doing because it’s noticing the smell of damp, fallen leaves, the deer you spotted in the distance and the stunning view from the overlook you’ve hiked up too. 

No One Can Reach You

Flying has become such a test of endurance and patience these days but it does have one good thing going for it; while you’re in the air, you’re unreachable. If you’re hiking in a remote enough location, your cell phone might not work (and even if it does, you can fib and tell people it won’t!). 

No emails, no calls, no texts, no interruptions! Bliss! 

Hiking Stokes Your Creative Fires

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow. – Henry David Thoreau

Are you having artist’s block? Go for a hike to get those creative juices flowing! A study found that creative thinking improved on average 60% while walking and even more so when walking outdoors. There are no indoor hiking trails so…

You Could Use a Good Night’s Sleep

Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.-Gary Snyder

There are two kinds of tired, mentally tired and physically tired. Being mentally tired is miserable and doesn’t lend itself to a restful night’s sleep. But being physically tired helps you sleep more soundly. 

Hiking gives you glorious sleep because you’ve spent time in fresh air and daylight. You’ve relaxed your brain and tired out your body. Hiking is especially great for us city dwellers. We don’t have a lot of opportunities for the kind of physical activity that makes for a good night’s sleep. We don’t have yards to mow, leaves to rake, gardens to tend, sheds to build! Hiking will give you that physical tiredness that promotes restful sleep.

Hiking is a Problem Solver

 Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better. – Albert Einstein

When our minds are constantly overstimulated with information (TV, the internet, the newspaper, podcasts, etc) our brains are so busy trying to interpret it (even if it’s not particularly important to us) that it has less time to analyze and interpret information that is useful to us, the information we need to solve our problems. 

If you can’t fall asleep at night because your problems are churning around in your head, this is why. Bedtime is the only time our brains aren’t so overstimulated by junk noise that they can focus on our problems. 

Getting into nature for a hike away from all that unnecessary noise frees up our brains to work on what’s important.

You Won’t See That in the City! 

To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles. Mary Davis

The things you come across on a hike are extraordinary. Animals, flowers, colors, sounds, waterfalls, even food if you know your edible flora from your poisonous flora! I’ve seen some of the most beautiful, memorable things I’ve ever seen in my life while out on a hike.

What are You Waiting For?

Hiking has all of this to offer and much, much more. So what are you waiting for? Lace up your boots and I’ll meet you at the trail head.