It’s that time of year again – everyone is getting outside for the summer! Getting enough exercise can seem tedious, but what if I told you there was an activity you could do that would not only improve your physical health but also your mental and emotional well being as well? Intrigued? What if I also told you it’s as easy as taking a few steps out of your own back door!
Hiking is quickly becoming one of the most popular American pastimes, coming in at number 4 for the most popular outdoor activity in the U.S., (after running, fishing and biking) according to The Outdoor Foundation’s 2018 Outdoor Participation Report. In addition to improving your cardiovascular health, hiking can also be an excellent workout routine. According to Harvard Health, “Taking a hike on the slightly uneven surface of a trail also provides a natural way to engage the core muscles in your torso and to hone your balance skills”. Logging your physical activity with a smartwatch or fitness tracking app is a great way to monitor your physical activity while hiking.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your day-to-day struggles, hiking can even improve your mental health! Any type of physical activity allows the release of endorphins which interact with the receptors of the brain and trigger that feel-good feeling which is a similar response to that of a patient that has received a dose of morphine. But hiking outside, in nature, enjoying the natural world around us has been proven to improve our overall mood and clarity than simply walking on a treadmill indoors.
If you have kids, try making a simple scavenger hunt for them to follow along with on the trail! Insects, birds, leaves, water, a seed or nut are some basic examples of what I like to include on our family scavenger hunts. Above all else, remember to have fun! We are stewards of this beautiful planet and by taking nothing and leaving with memories we can lead happier, healthier lives!