The Amazing Power of a Good Hike
Stressed? Exhausted? Depressed? Here’s a surefire way to clear your head and improve your health.
When anxiety sends my heart climbing into my throat, when motivation evaporates, when life makes no sense, I have a proven pick-me-up. I head to the nearest trail for a quick hike or, when time allows, drive to the mountains for a good, long trek. Without fail, the exercise, fresh air, and curative effects of nature itself combine to boost my mental mood and invigorate my body.
It’s not just me. There’s serious science to all this, and the positive effects build over time with repeated outings. Importantly, you’re never too old to begin accruing the physical and mental health benefits.
A mountain of research proves that simply walking at a brisk pace is a great way to improve well-being, lowering the risk of everything from depression to heart problems and upping the odds of a longer, healthier life. Hiking offers the added benefit of some uneven terrain that strengthens numerous small muscles in your legs and core that improve balance while forcing your mind to focus on each step rather than cogitating on life’s stressors.
If an incline gets you huffing and puffing, all the better. Specifically, hiking has been shown to lower blood pressure, bolster the immune system, lower stress, increase attention levels, and support well-being more broadly. Science also finds that just being in nature — whether or not you hike — can boost your mood and reduce your odds of dying prematurely. The combo of hiking in nature can boost creativity and problem-solving abilities, too.
Nature Can Help Get Us Through This Mental Health Crisis
If you can’t actually go outside, technology can help
But isn’t hiking hard? That’s up to you. Perhaps there’s a nearby city park with flat, winding paths or maybe a popular…