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Although the cliches "Get lost!" and "Go take a hike!" may have developed negative connotations in our culture, getting lost out in the wilderness while taking a hike may add decades of healthy and happy living. This is because hiking is extremely healthy for both mind, body, and spirit.
One can imagine how relaxing it can be to confront new unexplored territory while the babbling brooks echo in the distance. Yet, we have denigrated into a culture of convenience that looks for instant gratification through click-and-view entertainment unless our lifestyles are situated outdoors.
Only a certain sect of our population realizes how many wondrous sites there are to see in our nation's state parks.
Starting the Trek to Improved Health
It takes some ambition to step outside of our comfort zones. One of the easiest ways to get in touch with nature without roughing it is to book a stay at a log cabin in a nature resort. These resorts may have acres and acres of adventure and instructors to help you learn whitewater rafting, fire starting, and other survival skills.
They may also have all the amenities that make your stay a pleasant vacation such as gourmet dining, fitness clubs, and swimming pools. Most cabins are reasonably priced and will not set you back much more than a hotel might cost.
You may also find that these resorts are built around geological attractions such as weird rock formations or petrified forests that make the sightseeing something to remember.
Imagine the Weight Loss Benefits of Hiking
Hiking is like eating a gourmet meal replacement. You slowly digest all the wonderful nature surrounding you such as beautiful birds, flowers, and waterfalls as you pass into new lands. The scenery is the evolving reward or flavor as you climb towards the climax of your destination, typically some key sight on a trail.
And because you have to earn your rewards by hiking over diverse terrains, you overcome the mental block of boredom that keeps you from exercising.
Of course, when it comes to hiking, the endurance and strength needed may be greater than expected. Yet, one must persevere if they want to make it back to basecamp. It is easy for the average hiker to burn through over 500 calories an hour without the temptation to gorge on food because it is not readily available.
This makes hiking the ideal diet program for weight loss because it fills the void of munching with exploring. Although one can stop for a respite, even this meal must be earned with laborious fire building and campfire cooking. In any case, swapping out microwave burritos for fruits, nuts, and granola sure helps melt off the pounds.
The Race is On, Or Is it?
When it comes to hiking, you don't have to run to raise your heart rate. Running is a great form of exercise because it exhausts your body's oxygen supplies and gets your heart pumping. Cardiovascular exercises dilate the fine capillaries at the surface of the skin and in remote parts of the body to flush out toxins.
They also help you regulate your blood pressure and expel the salts from your body through perspiration. A hike up a steep incline can just as easily push your body to the limits and get your heart pumping but without the same stress on joints.
Hiking is More than Meets the Eye
Hiking has all sorts of collateral health benefits. Some oncologists have studied the effects of hiking in cancer patients. The findings suggest that hiking does help people heal and recover from cancer.
It certainly makes sense when you consider how it can flush out the toxins and force your body to go through healthy phases of mitosis (cell splitting) that regenerate healthy cells. When you are not poisoning your body with heavily processed foods, it is easy to see the advantages.
Hiking also helps to strengthen your core when you hike with a backpack and to improve your arm strength when you use a hiking stick or poles.
The most significant benefit of hiking will be in your thighs, glutes, calves, and hamstrings. It is also very good for building the balancing muscles throughout your body. This is because your body has to adapt and balance to coordinate maneuvers over diverse and uneven terrain.
Yet, because the terrain is softer than asphalt or concrete, you will not be affected by the high impact repercussions that hurt your body.
Hiking is a Belly Fat Buster
Most belly fat comes from sugar. When you hike, you can avoid the temptations to eat sugary foods and carbs. In addition, your body will also process the glucose in your blood better.
This reduces insulin resistance and the glycation process that builds a plaque in your artery walls. This combination is lethal and leads to heart disease, strokes, and diabetes.
Because you are pushing yourself progressively until all your energy stores are used up when you hike, your body will switch to burning off belly fat even when you are resting to recoup the energy expended.
Hiking for Mental Health
One of the best benefits of hiking, as opposed to other forms of exercise, is its effect on reducing stress. Hiking takes away the noise and agitation of urban noise pollution. You will immediately feel the refreshing and calming effect of nature.
The chaotic sounds of birds chirping, toads singing, and crickets playing their little fiddles is so random that you'll never get bored.
The placid scenery is picturesque and can melt away all those negative thought patterns that build up in your mind when you live in the city. City life is a fate of information overload. Everything is puffed up with bright toxic colors and towering stone structures, competing for our attention.
In nature, the wonderful things are hidden and require careful consideration to find them.
Our biggest source of stress is the advertisements in the city. Every time that we read these signs, they are triggering synaptic activity in our brains. We are making all sorts of associations at a subconscious level.
Because our mental machinery is being overloaded with superfluous thought processes, it is hard to simply relax and enjoy life. Escaping to nature can be as relaxing as visiting a foreign country where you don't know the language and need only nod and smile to receive what you want.
Customized Workouts that Never Stale
When you consider how many state parks there are in the United States and trails, it is easy to see how hiking has no limits. You can incorporate your hiking routine with vacations and road trips to develop the ultimate experience.
Instead of being pressured to conform robotically to the dictations of some aerobic instructor, you can set your own pace and plan to enjoy hiking for the experience.
Most people who go to gyms to workout aren't there for the enjoyable experience. They would like to put themselves through the physical rigors as quickly as possible to get it over with so that they can enjoy the rest of their day. Some may listen to music and shut themselves off from the surroundings to deal with the redundancy and boredom.
Communal Connections Abound
When you begin hiking, you are taking your place in a large community of nature lovers. You will find that people who frequent campgrounds and go on hiking adventures are more personable and friendly. They aren't being overwhelmed with information and irritated by your presence.
They have a genuine interest in meeting you and understanding you as a person because you are an interesting part of nature. People who hike and camp dissolve so many of the socio-economic barriers that keep them divided in their daily lives and are open to the adventures of meeting new people.
You can also join social groups of people who like to plan hiking and other recreational nature activities to add some depth and character to your social life.
Investing in Hiking Gear
One of the best things you can do to make your journey more comfortable is investing in quality hiking gear. You will thank yourself later when you do your homework. The ideal gear to pack for hiking is Merino wool sweaters and socks.
These clothing items are lightweight and will balance out your body heat in the summer and winter weather. They are antimicrobial and naturally wick away the water. You may not have to wash them for months at a time. This means that you can travel lighter and wear the same clothes, day after day, without access to a laundromat.
High-quality hiking boots with comfortable insoles and a backpack that fits your body with all the bare essentials is also suggested.
Hiking is available 24 hours a day right outside of your doorstep. Mother Nature is calling you to return home to the comforts of her abode. You will immediately feel welcomed and will have the desire to continue down that dusty path to new adventures for the rest of your life.
Identifying yourself with the outdoors and nature without being a boring lumberjack or zoologist is refreshing for the mind, body, and spirit. Hiking and camping are both great escapes to take you out of that reliance on an artificial world where money is king. In nature, Mother Nature is king and everyone else simply awes, dumbfounded by the beauty.
I am 34 years old and currently live in Landenberg, PA. I played many different sports growing up and also started lifting weights at age 12.
In my late teens I got heavy into drugs and ended up even being a heroin addict for a few years.
By my late twenties I finally found myself again, much to the credit of diet and fitness – it helped save my life!
Since overcoming drug and heroin addiction I’ve been able to totally rebuild myself in health, relationships and business. Much of that I credit to diet and fitness.
I now enjoy helping other people overcome addiction (and triumph it) with a project called “Project Unbroken” that myself and my good friend Matt started in early 2018. We share out story of addiction, bringing people through our addiction all the way to where we are now in life.
I also love testing with new diets & fitness stuff and sharing with other people. Part of this includes a team of high skilled writers and researchers that help me with the content for this website!