Hiking is definitely a rewarding experience, not just a fun activity. The best part is that you don’t need to go on strenuous trips either. You can make the most out of hiking even with a few hours of solitude. So if you’re thinking about picking up hiking more, here are our top 5 reasons why you should do that.
1. You’ll learn new things
On each hike you’ll go, you will understand the world in a different way. Say you’re going on a wonderful, yet perilous journey in Nepal, maybe at the base of Mount Everest. You’ll get the chance to find out more about the wonderful landscapes which required millions of years of carving to get to where they are now. With a blend of tropical, sub-alpine and alpine landforms, you’ll learn more about geography and earth formation in a week of hiking than you would if you were simply studying these matters from your laptop.
Or you can go on a backcountry hike near your home, and still learn amazing things about the local plants, animals, and landscape. You’ll see things in a new perspective each time you’re outside, and that can open your appetite for new research once you’re back.
The history of the place where you’re hiking is important too. There are plenty of trails that visit historic sites with ancient fossils, like Machu Picchu. But even if that’s not the case, you can still meet the locals and see the world through their eyes, find out stories about times past and learn remarkable traditions.
2. You can make new friends
Imagine setting up camp after a tiresome, yet beautiful hike. There will probably be other campers there as well, and you can make friends with them easily because there’s a sense of community that ties hikers. And if they’re from a different country or even a different continent, you get the opportunity to find out more about a whole new place.
Hiking can definitely be a multicultural experience if you’re meeting new people, in the sense that you’re constantly in touch with new mindsets. That enlarges your own perspective on life, helping you understand your own thinking better.
Besides, making new friends will help you with the planning of new trips. You can also help each other on this current hike, maybe with supplies like a better hydration pack, waterproof matches or a few carabineers.
3. Each hike is a soul-cleansing experience
You don’t have to recreate the Pacific Crest Trail journey from Wild to have a singular, soul-enriching experience each time you hike. It’s enough to enjoy the solitude and open your eyes and your heart to the momentous wilderness that surrounds you. You can see beauty in a sunset, in a cautious squirrel chewing a crunchy acorn, or in a campfire that lights up the pitch black night.
You can also continue your learning experience from a personal point of view. For instance, spending the night under the open sky and enjoying the plethora of constellations can give you the opportunity to learn more about the ancient gods and goddesses. Finding out their stories will fill you with awe and you’ll understand your own life better, maybe sprinkle it with a bit of magic.
And even if you’re traveling with a bigger group, you can still live enriching experiences. You can share stories, sing and talk until the early hours. You can test your limits and find out what keeps your friendship together. Or you can simply do some yoga/ breathing exercises with a view once you’re at the campsite.
4. You can develop new abilities
Hiking is important for creating new links between neurons, which isn’t just the privilege of people who learn new information. In fact, you can do that with each ability you develop, particularly if you view this as a pleasant experience.
You can learn how to build a shelter from scratch, how to find water when there isn’t any stream available or how to read a map. That means you’ll acquire all sorts of technical skills, you’ll exercise your analytical thinking and you’ll become handier.
Each time you practice building a shelter, you will adjust your actions depending on the resources you find in that specific environment and the equipment you have. That will, in turn, improve your creativity, building more neural pathways and therefore helping you learn faster.
5. You’ll workout more
A healthy mind in a healthy body, right? Well, there’s nothing like hiking to exercise your muscles in a holistic way. You’ll tone your quads and calves each time you’re climbing, while the glutes and hamstrings get an ongoing workout. Of course, you’ll need some reliable trail running gaiters for extra stability, protection and comfort, if you’re hiking on a treacherous terrain.
Your lower back and shoulders will also gain some strength from constantly carrying your backpack. Not to mention your whole core is working especially when you need to hold your balance. Your arms will be constantly moving, as well, even doing some intense work on their own if you’re using hiking poles or hand grips to climb in steep places.
But the main advantage is that you’ll be working out in an open space. That means you’ll breathe in a cleaner air that’s bound to send more oxygen to your muscles and make you feel euphoric with the increased release of oxytocin. Along with the constant change of scenery, your body will also be challenged differently and move more naturally than on a treadmill, which is definitely a plus.
What’s your top 5?
With everything that we discussed here, we hope we’ve given you enough reasons to go on more hikes. The world is definitely your oyster, and it’s amazing to discover the wonders of nature by immersing yourself in it. That said, we’re curious to learn what your top reasons for hiking are. What have you learned through hiking? What motivates you? Leave us a comment below.
Rebecca lives in USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favorite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, company of other adventurers and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another of her passion is the ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy. She also writes for HikingMastery.com.