Hiking is a great summer fitness activity that has benefits for both your physical and mental health. Here are some tips to get you started.
Not everyone is a gym person. Here are a few things that our wellness coaches hear fairly often. “I don’t like going to the gym” or “I hate exercising.”
OK, we get it. The gym may not be for everyone but to stay healthy, you need to engage in activities that will get you up and moving. There are many activities that you can engage in even if the gym is an alien environment to you: Walking, biking, yoga, cross country skiing and swimming are all great fitness activities you can do on your own or with friends and family. You can also play team sports or recreational sports like tennis or golf. One other activity we highly recommend is hiking, which Outside magazine calls “the most underrated endurance workout.” They reviewed several fitness studies with surprising results about the benefits of hiking:
“For starters, participants pushed themselves harder during the outdoor hike, as evidenced by heart rates that were, on average, six beats per minute higher. Given this, you’d think the participants would have experienced the outdoor hike as more tiring and perhaps less enjoyable. But the opposite occurred: They reported increased feelings of pleasure both during and immediately following the outdoor hike, and they said they felt less fatigued afterward. Put differently, going hard while hiking in nature feels easier than going hard indoors.”
Hiking helps you connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors, so it is good for both your physical and mental health. It’s a relatively low-cost activity that can be enjoyed alone or with others. You can engage at your comfort level – short hikes on local trails and parks or more adventurous and challenging day-long or weekend hikes further afield. It’s a great way to build endurance and strength. WebMD talks more about how hiking is good for body and mind.
If you’d like to give hiking a try, we’ve gathered a few resources to get you started. We’re linking articles, but each of these sites they appear on have more resources for hiker how-tos and ideas for getting the most out of hiking.
- Liftopia offers Hiking for Beginners: 10 Essential Tips, which covers everything from choosing a trail and what’s essential to pack to dressing for success and pacing yourself.
- The site “Hike it Baby” is a great resource to get you started. They offer tips on How to Start Hiking Regardless of Fitness Level as well as links to trails near you.
- Backpacker features 11 Things Every Hiker Should Know About Fitness, key hiking fitness principles to get the most out of your time on the trail. They also offer suggested hikes and tools to find trails near you.
- Basement Geographer offers the following handy infographic in their article 3 Amazing Thoughts To Ponder To Hike Like A Pro