A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good … than all the medicine and psychology in the world.
– Paul Dudley White
Day hiking – somewhat like backpacking minus the overnight camping – is an energizing and healthy activity that is within the reach of nearly any budget.
Today, we will explore six of the most important benefits of hiking.
#1 Keep Healthy
Taking an occasional hiking trip is a great way to supplement your daily exercise routine.
If you normally just do pushups and sit-ups, you will only be exercising your upper body.
When you first start hiking, find a relatively flat and short route that will not be too difficult. Over time, slowly increase the distance and climbing so that it is always a challenge but never a danger.
If you have a family, you can make the same hike matched a variety of strength levels by having the stronger members carry packs and tired children.
#2 Build Stamina
As you slowly increase the distance of your hikes, you will improve your stamina.
Muscles are primarily formed from a combination of two types of fiber: fast muscle and slow muscle.
The fast muscle is usually stronger, but it wears out quickly while the slow muscle is not as powerful but lasts for a longer time.
Short exercises, such as pushups, will help build fast muscle, but longer activities, such as hikes, are important to cultivated slow and enduring muscle.
#3 Foster Relationships
Hiking is a great family activity.
Because you are together for a long period of time (2 – 8 hours, depending on the hike), you will have plenty of time to talk with each other.
Not only will the quantity of time spent together be large, but the quality will also be high.
This is because…
- you are striving toward a common goal (finishing the hike).
- you will have very few distractions.
- the enjoyment of exercise will help keep attitudes pleasant.
- the beauty of the outdoors will encourage happy outlooks.
Because of this, you will able to build stronger relationships than if you were, for instance, lounging in the living room.
#4 Get Outside
Simply getting outside is one of the biggest benefits of hiking.
As you hike, you will enjoy…
- clean air.
- the singing of birds.
- the beauty of God’s world.
In addition, you will soon find that each season has its own special gifts:
- Spring: Vibrant green color everywhere.
- Summer: Cool temperatures in the shade of towering trees.
- Fall: Vivid reds, oranges, and yellows as the trees lose their leaves.
- Winter: Clean, wide-open spaces with the leaves gone.
God truly created a beautiful world, and it is our privilege to enjoy it. (And defend it, but that’s a different topic.)
#5 Relieve Stress
After a long week of difficult office work, hiking provides an excellent avenue to diffuse built-up stress.
Especially if you are hiking solo, the silence of the woods provides an excellent chance to pause from the busyness of life and simply think.
When hiking alone you might profit from spending time…
- memorizing Scripture.
- thinking about a topic you are studying.
- considering your short-term and long-term priorities.
- planning your next week (if this does not build stress).
Even if you are with family or friends, hiking can still be an outstanding stress reliever, but you (obviously) will not have as much time for personal thought.
#6 Save Money
With so many expensive options for family adventures, hiking is a great opportunity to have a fun family outing without denting your pocketbook.
If you hike regularly, you will probably want to invest some money in good hiking equipment, but occasional hikers can probably make do with the shoes and backpacks they already have.
The actual hiking is usually free unless you need a parking permit or pass.
Whether you hike with others or by yourself, this activity will help you grow stronger, enjoy nature, and relieve stress… all for a very low price!
Do you hike? If so, how have you benefited?