8 Good Reasons to Take a Hike

Lush scene from a hike in the Pacific Northwest

I’m lucky to live in a beautiful place that offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation.  This year, my husband and I made a New Year’s resolution to go hiking at least once a month.  We felt like we hadn’t been taking full advantage of the landscape around us, and we thought the resolution would be a good incentive to spend more time together and work our way through our guidebooks to local trails and waterfalls.  We’ve really enjoyed our hikes so far and are looking forward to exploring a new spot this weekend.  If you need some inspiration to hit the trails, here are eight good reasons to get outside.

  1. It’s finally spring!  The days are getting longer, we’ve turned the clocks forward again, and at least where I live, the weather has been pretty nice.  After spending too much time indoors in the winter, the fresh air and warm sun feel wonderful.  In a couple of months, it might be miserably hot, so get out and enjoy the beautiful, temperate weather while you can.
  2. Your step count will skyrocket.  I wear a FitBit, and I confess that I fall short of my daily step goal as often as I meet it.  When my friends invite me to join those step challenges, I never win.  But when I spend a Saturday hiking, I reliably skip over several people in the seven-day totals list.
  3. It’s good for your body.  Hiking can benefit your physical health in all kinds of ways, including lowering your risk of heart disease, strengthening your bones, improving your balance, strengthening the muscles in your lower body, and helping you to maintain a healthy weight.
  4. It’s good for your brain.  Hiking can lower your stress level and lessen negative thinking.  It can improve spatial memory, reduce brain fatigue, and lower your risk of dementia.  It might boost your creativity, too.
  5. It’s good for your relationship.  If you hike with your partner, that is. Exploring new places and doing challenging things together can help you to feel more connected to your significant other.
  6. It can be social, or solitary.  Hiking is a great activity to do with friends because it’s easy to chat as you go.  Joining a hiking group through Meetup.com or finding a local hiking club can be a good way to make new friends.  On the other hand, if you could really use some peace and quiet, hiking solo can provide some much-needed alone time.
  7. You can go at your own pace.  Hiking is very adaptable to your fitness level.  You can choose a trail that’s steep and rocky or one with a lower grade that’s more well-worn.  You can take as many breaks as you need.  You can hike as far as you like and can turn back at any time.
  8. It can leave you with a sense of awe.  Allow yourself to take in the beauty that surrounds you and think about how long the mountains, trees, and streams may have been there.  Remind yourself how fortunate you are to live on this amazing planet.  Then try to carry that sense of wonder with you when you leave the wilderness!

A hiking trail

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