45 Reasons To be a Hiker – Part 4

This is the last in the four-part series of reasons to be a hiker—as if you needed a reason! But if your friends, family, or co-workers are curious as to why you’re so into this outdoor obsession, pass them this list; maybe they’ll catch on.

Did you miss Part III with reasons 24-34?

35. Hiking builds your bones.

By putting stress on your bones, hiking helps build their density. Start without added weight on your hikes and work your way up into increased intensity, either by going on more difficult hikes, adding weight to a pack, or both. “To see real improvements in bone density, you need to push your intensity,” says Cleveland Clinic physical therapist Maribeth Gibbon, quoted in an post by Next Avenue. “Increasing your pace for short intervals or going up and down hills will place appropriate forces on your bones.”

36. Hiking works your muscles.

From stabilizing yourself as you walk through a river to scrambling up a steep incline, or heck, even just a brisk walk on a rail trail, your muscles are working to keep you moving and steady. The more technical the trail, the more muscles—all throughout your body—you end up working.

37. Hiking improves your cardio endurance.

Yes, you need to actually increase the intensity of the hike through grade or speed, but wouldn’t you rather do it outside than on a treadmill?

38. Hiking works your mind.

Since hiking moves you through environments that change as you go, your brain is constantly taking in new visuals and processing them. And although the same might be said of television, hiking adds in interaction with the ever-changing elements, too (e.g., walking through them, feeling and seeing the breeze, etc.), giving your brain a deeper experience than sitting and watching a screen flicker with images.

Reasons to Hike - solitude

39. Hiking surrounds you with quiet.

I would say  “silence,” but we all know nature isn’t silent. Birds, streams, crunching of twigs under our boots: these sounds manage to not distract our minds from the present moment. Our thoughts can remain in our surroundings, unlike the alerts we get from being in civilization that compete for our attention.

40. Hiking can get you out of a routine.

Maybe the thought of tacking on another set at the gym is no longer motivation to get you out of bed (was it ever, though?) or maybe you are bored with the after dinner go-to of watching Netflix until you fall asleep. Hiking is not only a great break from your usual activities (while still giving you a workout or entertaining you), it can also help you break out of a mental routine. (See the next two points.)

41. Hiking promotes creativity.

Many of us already know that just being in nature has a host of benefits, one of those being a boost in creativity. But a study from Stanford University also found that walking increases creative output by 60%. What if you could walk…in nature? Oh right, that’s hiking. 😉

42. Hiking helps you develop new hobbies.

Developing the ultimate in dehydrated meals, whittling, wild foraging, fishing, climbing, canoeing, photography, etc.—anything that might help you get out farther and stay out longer while hiking (and enjoy your time doing it) just might become a hobby you enjoy when you’re not hiking, too.

Reasons to Hike - foraging

43. Hiking encourages you to develop new skills.

Similar to hobbies, but more for improving your life when less-than-ideal situations pop up, hiking can help you build skills that improve life in the front-country, too. For example: Hiking might help you learn to cook with minimal cooking tools and ingredients. It may lead you to taking a wilderness first aid or responder course. You may develop your compass and map route-finding skills.

44. Hiking helps prevent cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

We all know exercise is healthy. But some of us think we have to go “all out” to get those benefits. According to findings by the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association, moderate exercise is enough to help prevent many of the diseases that kill two-thirds of Americans. Walking is listed as one of those “moderate” exercises; do it outdoors and reap all the additional benefits presented in this hiking list.

45. Hiking works around your schedule.

Decided you needed to get away for a few minutes but by the time you hit the end of the trail, you dreaded the thought of going back inside? Turn around and hike it again. And again. There’s no extra fee or a line of people waiting for their turn.

46. Hiking is real.

No virtual reality. No deadlines other than sunrise and sunset. No forced mealtimes constructed by lunch hour at work. When you hike, you go back to what our ancestors were used to: feeling the breeze, the heat, the cold, the sweat, the rain. You’re using muscles and eating because you are working away calories in the world’s first gym: the outdoors.

Want to send a friend the full list? Send them the link to Part I and they can go check out all the great benefits that come along with being a hiker, too!

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Although she’s a Florida girl, exploration called her away after the final bell of her high school career. Leaving home to journey westward alone, she chased the sun to Utah. Over the years, she was consumed with skiing, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and getting lost on back roads. But exploration continued to call. After closing her bakery — which funded college courses and adventure — she stored her possessions and hit the road again, on a quest to reach the distant places of North America. For three years she lived in her little Mazda 3 and skied the backcountry of Alaska, slept under the northern lights in the Yukon Territory, ice climbed Colorado's frozen canyons and rock climbed across the continent, photographed Nova Scotia’s coves, backpacked in southern US wildernesses and munched on sugared tamarindo in the jungles of Mexico. But living in a car started to feel limiting, so after seeing the many glories this continent had to offer, she chose the only place fitting for an explorer to spend a lifetime of wild wonder: British Columbia. Dual citizenship in hand, she settled along the Powder Highway in the Selkirks and is now making her home between four walls and deeply wooded mountains. When she's not playing the part of a photojournalist, Gina can be found collaborating with women worldwide through her nonprofit, Outdoor Women's Alliance, and working to improve her outdoor skills and wilderness safety certifications.

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