Green surrounds you in large swathes, patches and blotches. All around you is a tranquil quiet which can’t exactly be said to be broken by the occasional call and tweet of the birds where they perch or take to the sky.
You feel your veins stretch and pulsate in your legs against the incline as you inch further upwards with every step. Behind you, you can hear the click click click of the zips on your rucksack.
You think of the water can propped in one of the pockets behind you. How about a drink? Not yet. You already had one not so long ago.
Keep going, you urge yourself. Keep going. It is your first time hiking but you’ve been wanting to turn back since the first step. Perhaps a song could help distract you. Which songs would be most appropriate?
How about swing low chariot? A chariot would be good right now. Almost anything that doesn’t involve you walking would be good. Hey, why don’t you sit down?
You realize you’re beginning to sound a lot like Samwell Tarly as described to you by your daughters. You know they find him really funny. Come on, you think to yourself, you don’t want to be a Samwell Tarly now, do you? Keep going. Keep going. Keep go—
You stumble on a fallen branch across the path. You do not fall but you know you’ll have quite a bruise by the time all this is done. You can already feel the sting. And you’ve only been walking thirty minutes.
The very idea of hiking itself can sometimes prove to be a most daunting thought for almost anyone to have. There is no disputing or gainsaying the fact that John Muir had quite the right idea when he stated; “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
It is ultimately the disheartening case that in the bid to enjoy the much needed quality time with nature, or for the sake of overcoming set challenges and hurdles, hikers generally have to deal with insane bug bites and furious blisters and bruises.
However, it must be pointed out, that beyond the breathtaking landscape of snow-capped mountain tops and ocean views, hiking is a practice which comes packed with an abundance of mental and physical benefits.
In the desire to lead a better, healthier, and happier life, there are a number of things which hikers could very well teach the rest of us.
Hikers Are A Creative Lot
You might as well throw out the tins and packs and forget the caffeine. If you’re one of those looking for a boost to your brain power, you need look no further than the very closest trail around.
Researchers have been able to show that if you are spending much time outdoors, you are by that very act increasing your attention span and your creative problem solving skills by fifty percent.
The researchers in question also point out that these end results may have as much to do with unplugging from everyday technology, as they do with spending time outside. David Strayer, one of these researchers, stated to the Wilderness Society thus; “This is a way of showing that interacting with nature has real, measurable benefits to creative problem-solving.”
It also deserves pointing, that it is not just the lack of technology, or the abundant exposure to trees, sunshine and fresh air that contribute essentially to this boost of creativity in trailblazers.
Investigators from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education found that walking is more likely to get one’s creative juices flowing, than the act of sitting down.
It’s Seriously Cheap Work Out To Look That Much Fit
As much as it increases your brain capacity, hitting that chosen trail works on your body and builds those muscles. It takes just a singular hour of trekking to burn well over 500 calories, depending on the weight of the pack you are carrying, as well as on the level of the incline you’re walking.
Without putting too much pressure on your joints, hiking is a great way to get some really serious work out.
Caroline Stedman, a seasonal Park Ranger at northern Wisconsin’ Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, informs The Huffington Post; “Trails are often softer on joints than asphalt or concrete, so I find myself feeling less stiff and creaky after a hike than a jog down a sidewalk.”
If you have it as your goal, heading for the hills guarantees that weight loss results are even better. Not only would you be burning some serious calories, but altitude itself has actually proven to be quite the ally in weight loss.
In addition to all this, tramping through the trails on a regular basis has been known to decrease cholesterol and blood pressure.
The danger of strokes and diabetes and heart disease can be reduced for those at a high risk, and blood pressure lowered by four to ten points, by logging cardio in the form of hiking. Remember to not lose your heart when you find you’re not out of breath on the way back down.
When it comes to lowering your cholesterol, both going up and coming down have their benefits, however, hiking downhill is two times more effective at removing blood sugar, and at improving glucose tolerance.
The Hike Is A Healer
Suggestions have been made by some research that the physical perks of hiking extend far beyond cardiovascular health, and may even go as far as to help cancer patients recover.
In an actual study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers measured the oxidative stress rates of women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer, before and after hiking.
Said oxidative stress is thought to play a role in the onset, progression, and recurrence of cancer. The study found that the antioxidative capacity in the blood of oncological patients, which helps fight off the disease, may improve throough long distance hiking trips.
Another efficient study showed that breast cancer survivors who exercised regularly, especially in the form of hiking, believed that the physical activity contributed a great lot to their recovery from cancer treatment.