The Benefits of Hiking
The Benefits of Hiking: Enhance Your Physical, Mental, and Social Well-Being
Written by Leece Norman
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to spend time outdoors. Getting outside is not only fun but can be a great way to exercise.
It brings with it some incredible benefits for your physical, social, and mental health. If you’ve never tried hiking before, we highly recommend it. This essential “hiking for beginners” guide could easily help you get started and answer any questions.
At Athletic, we believe it’s important to get outdoors and explore through hiking, mountain biking, or any means necessary. This is one of the reasons why we started our Two for the Trails Grant program. How it works is simple: Athletic Brewing donates up to $2 million annually to nonprofit organizations that work diligently to create, maintain, or restore trails.
As part of our commitment to the outdoors, we celebrated the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day®, even serving as their premier brew sponsor. Improving and increasing our trail systems is a win for us all. So, crack open one of your favorite non-alcoholic craft beers from Athletic and keep reading to learn about some of the benefits hiking can bring to your life.
The Benefits of Hiking
As mentioned above, hiking can be more than just exercise. In fact, it can improve your overall mental, physical, and social health. Let’s explore how each of these areas of our lives is affected positively by getting out on the trails.
Mental Health Benefits
Yes, it’s true. Remember the first time you reached the summit of a large mountain? You were probably super tired, but also felt a sense of accomplishment at what you just completed. The University of Essex researchers found that “green activity” for five minutes a day could improve people’s mood and self-esteem.
When you’re climbing a mountain or trekking through the woods on a new hike, you might feel this level of calm that you just don’t get in your day-to-day environments. A study from Stanford University shows that being in nature may lead to a lower risk of depression.
Physical Health Benefits
Hiking can improve the quality of sleep that you get at night. An article by the Cleveland Clinic suggests that it could be both exposure to Vitamin D that helps control your wake-sleep cycle and your internal temperature rising during exercise before going back down after that lulls you into sleep. Either way, it’s a wonderful perk to being outdoors!
Hiking helps you build muscles & improve your balance.
It may not always feel like it, but hiking is a workout. When you’re trekking through tough terrain over long distances, you will use your legs, core, and glutes. Consistently stepping on uneven surfaces such as slanted rocks and tree roots forces you to use your core muscles, which in turn helps you work on your balance naturally.
Hiking improves your endurance
This one goes more for consistent hikers vs the occasional hiker. Hiking regularly improves your endurance and as it’s exercise, it can help you with your cardiovascular health. Over time, your body will be able to handle more difficult hikes or tackle smaller hikes with ease.
Hiking keeps you present
Instead of getting lost in the world of social media, being outside hiking forces you to be more present. Take in the sound of the leaves moving through the wind, the trickle of water from a stream, and the buzz of insects going about their day.
Hiking is a community
Hiking brings you together with other like-minded people who love the outdoors. There’s nothing like reaching the summit with friends, new and old. Celebrate reaching the summit with one of Athletic’s non-alcoholic beers such as one of our flagship brews Upside Dawn.
Guarantee A Great Hiking Experience
Having a plan for where you’re going and ensuring you’re prepared for the hike is very important. Sure, you can hop out of the car at any trailhead and walk for a while, but having some forethought and a plan will ensure your safety and enjoyment of the hike. No matter if you’re an old pro at hiking or a complete newbie, these tips will help ensure that you have a great time hiking every time.
Always check the weather. You can go outside for a hike in most weather as long as you’re dressed appropriately for it. The key is not to be surprised while out there on the trail. Bringing a backpack with a rain jacket or extra layers might not be a bad idea to ensure that you stay dry and warm in case you get caught in the rain.
Plan your route. What exactly do you want to get from the hike? There are so many different types of trails out there that you can choose from. From climbing mountains to exploring fields, there's a hike out there for every kind of adventure.
Dress the part. You’re going to have a bad time by wearing shoes that don’t protect your feet and are sure to get you blisters. Make sure that you wear comfortable shoes, a hat, sunglasses, and clothes that are going to be comfortable to wear as you’re exercising. May we suggest some of Athletic’s high-quality gear? Remember if you’re doing any sort of elevation - it’s going to be colder at the top!
Stay fed and hydrated! The number one way to ruin a hike is by not feeling well while you’re doing it. Being dehydrated can be dangerous, especially if you’re away from any water sources for a while. Make sure you bring at least a ½ liter of water per hour you plan on being out on the trails. You may want to bring even more if the weather is extra hot. Also, bring some snacks out there. Hiking is exercise! You’re going to be burning some calories so be sure to replace them with some good protein-filled snacks.
- Be prepared for the unexpected. It’s not fun to think about, but sometimes, things just happen that are out of your control. Bee stings, twisted ankles, or even getting lost can all happen out on the trail. Be sure to bring a first aid kit to help with any physical issues that might happen. Sticking to the clearly marked trails will be best for ensuring you don’t get lost. If you do happen to get off the trail by accident, having a map or downloading the trail on an app will be best for helping you get back on track.
- Always tell someone where you’re going. Whether you’re doing a solo hike or heading out on the trail with some friends and family, it’s always a good idea to tell somebody who isn’t on the trail details of your hike. Where you’re going, who you’re going with, and what time you should be back are all important details to make someone aware of. That way, if an emergency happens, you have someone who can send help to find you and get you to safety.
One of the best things you could do as someone that loves hiking and the outdoors is to get involved. While the American Hiking Society celebrated National Trails Day on June 3, you can work on clearing trails and getting out in nature all year long.
You can immerse yourself in the holistic benefits of hiking by immersing yourself in nature and embracing the physical, mental, and social advantages it offers. The tips and insights provided in this guide can optimize your hiking adventures and create lasting memories while prioritizing your well-being. Ready to embark on your hiking journey? Explore Athletic Brewing’s non-alcoholic craft beers and high-quality gear to enhance your hiking experience.