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Eager to learn the benefits of hiking?
I know I sure did when I first started.
And trust me – there are countless benefits. From stronger bone density to great mental health relief.
Hiking does it all!
I’ve created this article discussing 9 life-changing benefits of hiking. If you stay until the end, you will also discover my mini hiking guide!
9 Life-changing Benefits Of Hiking In 2022
1. Improves Your Mental Health
It’s no surprise that being out in nature has mental health benefits .
But hiking up beautiful mountain trails!?
Now we’re talking!
If you’re ever feeling a little down in the dumps, hiking is a sure-fire way to turn that frown upside down
And I’m talking from experience.
The key is to make your hike as enjoyable as possible. If you’re uncomfortable, it’s going to make you feel worse.
Some ways to ensure your hike is enjoyable are as follows:
- Dress for the weather
- Bring trekking poles
- Bring boots with good ankle support
- Don’t forget the snacks
- Water is super important
You could also go with a friend. However, sometimes it’s best to spend time alone with your thoughts.
If you do decide to hike solo, make sure to bring a first aid kit, plenty of water, and a phone in case of emergencies.
2. Tons of Physical Benefits
If you thought the mental benefits were good, wait until you discover the physical benefits!
Do weight loss, lower blood pressure, and increased cognitive health sound good?
Then hiking is your best friend.
When we hike, our bodies are put under stress (depending on your current level of fitness). While this may be difficult (and exhausting!) at first, it doesn’t take long before our bodies adjust and get fitter.
And that’s when the weight starts falling off!
To make hiking even more physically challenging, try going uphill.
Of course, it’s always important to consult a medical professional before attempting difficult physical activities like hiking.
3. Your Balance Will Improve
Walking over uneven terrain is no walk in the park. Not only does it take strength in your legs, but also great balance.
Don’t worry if your balance sucks right now!
The more you hike, the better balance you will have.
Here is some day to day benefits of improving your balance:
- Less chance of injury (especially falls!)
- Become more athletic
- Improve your lifespan
- You will gain more strength
If you want to take things to the next level, you can try adding more weight to your backpack. This increases the stress on your core and leg muscles, making it more difficult.
Don’t jump before you can walk.
It’s also important to take things slow. Rush into anything, and you could end up with serious injuries.
4. Form Long-Lasting Friendships
My favorite thing about hiking is how easily you can meet other people. Let’s say you’re hiking up a mountain trail, it’s super easy to start up a conversation with a stranger.
After all, you both have the same goals and interests, right!?
There’s also something about being out in nature that brings out people’s personalities.
In big cities, it’s the complete opposite.
Everybody’s minds are occupied with the stresses of day-to-day life. When people venture out into the wilderness, it’s like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.
Before you know it, you’ve got a large group of friends with similar interests.
Next time you’re on the trail, don’t forget to say hi to people!
5. Say Goodbye To Insomnia
Hiking is known for helping people with Insomnia.
This is because strenuous physical activity helps us sleep.
However, I have a different theory. I think people find it easier to sleep after hiking because being in nature helps us relieve stress.
In turn, you can sleep easily because your mind is zen-like.
Don’t believe me? Even Harvard Medical School agrees that hiking helps with stress .
But here’s how to take it to the next level…
I believe the best way to experience deep sleep quality is by sleeping outside. When you’re hiking, you’re already in nature, so you may as well utilize your environment.
That’s why I recommend bringing a hammock.
The rocking motion makes it much easier for people to drift off.
Hammocks are much lighter than tents and don’t take up too much space in your backpack. After all, it’s about being as lightweight as possible when hiking, huh!?
They can also be put up almost anywhere!
So the world is your bedroom.
Keep in mind that some people find it difficult to sleep in hammocks at first. However, your body adjusts after a while.
6. Hiking Is A Confidence Booster
I believe there’s something in our nature…
A call to adventure, maybe!?
If we’re not fulfilling this calling, our confidence can take a hit. Life is about new experiences, friendships, and memories.
And the best place to find them?
Atop a mountain trail!
But here’s where it gets really interesting…
When you go hiking, you’re going with a purpose. You’re putting your body through stress with the intention of reaching the top.
You are no longer drifting through day-to-day life without purpose.
And reaching the top signals to your brain that you just achieved your goal. In turn, this leads to increased confidence.
Combine that with all the amazing friendships you build along the way, and it’s no wonder your self-esteem is on the rise, huh?
7. Experience The Wonders Of The World (Here)
Everybody enjoys traveling abroad, right?
But you can have the same great adventures in your home country. Most people don’t venture out into the unknown, so they never get to see the beauty of their own country.
I recommend spending time on Google, searching for the best hiking trails in your local area. Commit to going on 1 hike each week, and you’ll be shocked by what you discover.
Who knew your hometown had so many beautiful trails?
When you’re more confident hiking and ready to venture out a little, here are some spots I recommend:
1.The Lost Coast Trail
For those looking for a great escape, there is no better place than The Lost Coast Trail, California.
It’s very secluded. Apart from the occasional scouts, you’re unlikely to find much else…
Apart from breathtaking views – of course.
The trail takes you on a ride along the beautiful California coastline.
But it’s not for the faint-hearted. I only recommend tackling this trail after building up some experience in less difficult terrain.
Not only does it take 3-4 days to complete, but it’s also physically difficult.
But they do say the best things require hardship, huh!?
The best time to attempt The Lost Coast Trail is between May and October. Should you decide to go in the off-season, extra preparation is necessary.
Because heavy rain and strong winds are on the agenda!
2. The Wave, Arizona
Sometimes shorter hikes are the best.
After all, not everybody wants to spend multiple days outside.
That’s why I recommend The Wave, Arizona. The Wave provides a short and simple hiking trip; yet, still has breathtaking views.
Rather than a coastline, you’ll be hiking through a beautiful sandstone formation.
The only problem with The Wave is that access is limited. You will need to apply for a permit beforehand, yielding you an average success rate of 4%.
Pretty low, huh?
If you do manage to get a permit, make sure you stock up on water because hiking the wave is exhausting, to say the least.
For people who want something with easier access, keep reading…
3. Tomales Point Trail, California
I did promise a hiking trail that doesn’t make you jump through hoops.
And here it is – Tomales Point Trail, California.
Have you ever wanted to visit Scotland without the bad weather? Well, now you can!
Tomales Point offers views similar to what you find in Scotland. The only difference is the great weather and the Elk running around.
You’ll also find Tomales Point much easier than the other trails I have mentioned. It only takes 1-5 hours, depending on which route you take.
That makes it an excellent choice for beginners!
Read Also: Hiking For Beginners: A Step By Step Guide
8. You Don’t Need To Exhaust Yourself
People think hiking means reaching the summit of a difficult mountain.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
As long as you’re away from the city environment, hiking can be anything. Yes, that includes taking a 30-minute walk in the countryside!
So don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
When you start seeing the many health benefits and amazing scenery, you’ll naturally want to progress onto more challenging trails.
9. Create Memories You Will Never Forget
It’s not uncommon for people’s best memories to be of hiking.
Because everybody is relaxed and enjoying themselves while hiking, it’s much easier to be yourself.
In turn, you’re more likely to have fun.
I’ll give you an example…
Have you ever been on holiday and felt light? Like the troubles of the world have been lifted overnight?
It’s the same feeling when hiking.
My advice is to bring your camera. Because it’s always worth catching your most memorable moments on camera, right?
My Mini Guide On How To Hike Like A Pro
Preparation is very important when hiking, especially when tackling more difficult trails.
Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail!
But don’t worry, you’re not going to fail.
Because the following sections explain some key things I’ve learned through countless years of hiking different terrain.
1. Bring A Map
Sounds stupid, huh!?
You’ll be surprised how many beginners skip over this simple step.
I must admit, maps are a pain. Because who wants to be map reading while trying to take in the beautiful scenery?
Luckily, I’ve found a solution.
You can download Gaia GPS; an app that shows you the best hiking trails. You can download these trails for offline use.
Not only that, but it lets you save your favorite landmarks, so you can revisit them at a later date.
2. Don’t Forget About The Weather
If you’re hiking in beautiful sunny conditions…
Congratulations – I’m jealous.
For the rest of you, make sure you check the weather beforehand. I can’t think of anything worse than hiking with the incorrect clothing.
Here’s what I recommend for cold weather:
- Hardshell, Softshell, or Insulated Jackets
- Softshell Pants
- Durable Waterproof Boots
- A Reliable Waterproof Backpack
- Multiple Socks (And Spares!)
You may need some additional clothing in extreme weather. However, the items above are the basics.
3. Water & Food
Do you know what the worst thing is when hiking?
Running out of water.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re hiking in the sun or the rain, water is essential. Hiking is a difficult activity, so you need to keep your body working at optimal capacity.
My advice is to purchase a hydration bladder.
Food is also important.
Sometimes you will be fatigued when hiking A small snack is enough to power you through til the end.
Just make sure you prepare your snacks beforehand.
4. Insect Repellent Is A Must-Have
Trust me when I say…
‘Don’t skip the mosquito repellent’.
The last thing you want is to be attacked by mosquitoes for the entirety of your hike. This becomes even more important when hiking for multiple days.
Sleeping outside in a tent (or hammock) without mosquito repellent is a recipe for disaster. You will not be able to sleep, which makes the following day less enjoyable.
And you want your experience to be super fun, right?
5. Bear Spray May Be Necessary
If you thought mosquitoes were bad, you haven’t encountered an angry bear yet!
That’s why it’s important to keep the bear spray on your person at all times. While you can prevent bear attacks most of the time, the bear spray will save you a** in an emergency.
And don’t worry…
While bear spray causes discomfort, it doesn’t permanently injure the bear. It gives you just enough time to make your escape.
What Does Hiking Do For Your Body?
There are many healthy benefits associated with hiking. Not only does it strengthen your muscles and bones (excellent for elderly people!), but also builds up your cardiovascular health.
At first, you may struggle when hiking; especially on the more difficult trails. As you get more and more experience, your cardio will improve, making it much easier.
And that’s when the real fun starts!
Is Hiking Better Than Running?
I wouldn’t like to say which one is better because it’s based on personal preference. However, hiking lets you can experience some pretty amazing views!
I can’t say the same about running around your local town.
In terms of difficulty, they are equally matched. Running uses more energy over a shorter period, whereas hiking uses energy over a longer timespan.
If you’re still unsure, trail running is a great option.
Just make sure you prepare beforehand. It’s not the type of activity you want to jump into without any prior training.
Is It OK To Hike Every Day?
Everybody will have a different answer to this question.
Before you even consider hiking every day, make sure you are in great health. If unsure, always consult a medical professional.
But to answer your question…
Yes, you can.
However, it also depends on your age. As we get older, our bodies need rest and recovery periods. If you have your heart set on hiking every day, I recommend taking the weekends off to relax.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Hiking?
The most common disadvantage of hiking is the danger.
Sticking to basic trails doesn’t pose too big a risk. However, there may come a time when you decide to step things up a notch.
When this happens, you’ll naturally want to advance to more difficult trails.
Some of the more advanced trails require you to navigate your way through tricky terrain; such as steep inclines and cliff edges.
One wrong move could prove fatal.
But that’s why it’s important to gain prior experience. That way, you minimize the risk of anything bad happening.
In addition, you also run the risk of getting lost.
Traversing through extreme terrain in compromised conditions can be difficult, to say the least. It’s not uncommon for people to get lost, which opens a new stream of problems.
That’s why it’s important to bring emergency equipment. This includes a first aid kit, food, water, firestarter, etc.
Summing It Up
I believe hiking is one of the most beneficial activities you can do, especially when suffering from mental health issues.
You pick the trails based on your experience, so you still have a great time without overexerting yourself.
Not to mention to long-lasting friendships you will develop along the way!
Just ensure you’re well prepared. You don’t want to get lost without the correct equipment. In addition, it’s important to let family members know where you’re going.