Autumn is coming and can be the perfect time to get out in the great outdoors. After the humid, buggy, sweltering weather, getting out in your local wooded surroundings and natural areas will surely be a positive experience. Being outdoors has many benefits, physical and mental. The possibilities of health induced zones are endless.
Hiking is an activity that helps you relax as well as improve your health in many, many ways. It is also fun and you can do it with family, friends or a hiking group...or if you like solitude, yourself…..or with your pup.
It’s time to get out if you haven’t experienced this easy-to-do activity. You can pack your bags and go on a longer trip or just don a small backpack with some snacks and water.
Hiking isn’t hard….unless you just don’t like to walk. This totally depends on you as an individual. You can choose a long or short hike. If you are new to hiking, start out small. There are plenty of flat, short hikes in your area. Also, if you want more of a challenge, Wisconsin especially offers so many options.
I like to hike in 3 seasons and then cross-country ski and snow-shoe in winter. If there isn’t very much snow, I just keep on hiking. When I am out there, all stress falls away. I am able to think clearly and breathe in the beautiful fresh air. I solve my situations that come about, outside.
Here are five ways hiking helps you relax:
1. Reduces Fatigue
Hiking is a less (or can be) a less strenuous activity which helps us restore energy and gets rid of stress. Mild exercise, according to studies, reduces fatigue symptoms by 65 percent and increases energy by 20 percent. This is hiking. After a long week at work, get out there and start your journey to a rejuvenating weekend.
2. Will Help you Relax your Mind and Body
According to The American Public Health Association, spending time in nature, all nature...flowers, trees, fresh air etc., can make our minds relax. They say just being around nature is enough to markedly increase relaxation. This is what hiking does. You are in nature. It’s not just about the walk, it is about soaking in your surroundings. This has a positive effect on both the mind and body. The mind gets tired first and it gives your body a signal to stop...and your body responds. Your body needs fresh air/oxygen to stay active and awake.
3. Improves Mood
Hiking is a cardiovascular activity that is associated with improving mood and helps with relaxing by producing endorphins in the brain. An improved mood helps a person relax. Going on a weekly basis will help stabilize mood. Those who hike weekly or biweekly have increased levels of endorphins, norepinephrine, and a stronger internal system of stress-management.
The freedom to think without distraction, hiking enables you to take full advantage of the relative silence to spend time thinking deeply on issues that matter to you. Best way to work through problems.
4. Awesome Surroundings
Many studies have revealed that spending time in nature with fresh air and beautiful surroundings can help a person relax. Hiking is perfect for this. Great hiking areas with hills and valleys will allow you to get that cardiovascular exercise and reward you with amazing vistas and views. Think about camping at one of the beautiful spots you find. There is nothing better than being cozy under a blanket or sleeping bag and rising to the sun and fresh air...and maybe a campfire.
5. Good Sleep
People who don’t exercise at all are the most stressed. Hiking is one of their best options for exercise, to burn calories, lose weight and get that important dose of vitamin D. It also gives the muscles a stretch. After a hike the muscles are depleted of energy, thus you feel sleepy.
The rhythm of hiking serves to calm the nerves, pair it with music and you will accentuate the effectiveness of the body’s aerobic exercise.
If you are new to hiking and feel you are a bit weak, or you tire easily, you can use trekking poles. They can support you while you gain strength. You also can use them if you are on uneven terrain, or doing a difficult hike.
Wear good sturdy shoes like hiking boots. They have a better grip of the terrain, they will help support your ankles (if you choose the ankle type). Good shoes/boots will help prevent blisters as well.
Take a map or know where you are going. Your GPS on your phone or an app may work but be aware of lost signals if you are out in the country.
Know your limits. Think about the length of your hike and also the height...don’t climb too high if you think you may not be able to come down.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”
- John Muir
Where can you hike? Some Ideas!!
You can hike just about anywhere but there are so many inexpensive or free places to go. For myself, I spend my time on the Ice Age Trail. And I love to go to State Parks in Wisconsin. They have many beautiful walking and hiking trails. I have many but my favorite Wisconsin State Park Wisconsin State Park System is Wyalusing in Wyalusing Wisconsin, down by Prairie du Chein. Also, you can just go around your neighborhood….when I was training for the Grand Canyon, I filled my pack with books and found hills to “hike” in my area. If you can walk, you can hike. Just choose something you can do at first and build up to whatever you’d like.
Highland Lakes Ice Age Trail Wisconsin, Eastern Segment, Langlade County
Wyalusing State Park
“As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.”
- John Muir
Harvard Health Harvard Health
The Well Path The Well Path
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