Have you ever gone for a walk in the woods? I used the word walk, because that’s truly what hiking is. A simple walk. It can be as difficult or relaxing as you decide to make it. Growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains, I’ve had plenty of experiences hiking, and now that I work nine to five, I’ve been missing the days I used to spend on the trails.

There’s plenty of benefits you can receive from taking up hiking, but the effect it can have on your overall happiness and attitude makes every step to the top worth it. 

1. You get to be OUTSIDE!

Most adults don’t get outside nearly enough. If you think back to when you were a kid, you probably spent most of your time outdoors. Even if you’re someone who claims to hate being outside, I don’t buy that you dislike sunshine and fresh air. Sun exposure increases vitamin D production which promotes healthy functioning neuromuscular and immune systems. This assists in healthy hormone levels for a stable mood and lower anxiety.

2. High altitude exercise is good for you.

As a long distance runner in high school, I struggled with “exercise-induced asthma.” I discovered my love of the mountains when I began working out up there. By training at a slightly higher altitude than I was accustomed to, there was less oxygen, so it was harder to inhale. Doing so made it much easier to race at a lower altitude with more oxygen. If you’ve hit a wall in your cardio training, this may be one way to get over the hump, but it can also be helpful if you struggle with asthma like I did. If you add this to your training, please do so gradually. It is best to ask friends in your area trails to begin with.

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3. You'll have a sense of accomplishment.

Hiking may not be for everyone, but I think it’s similar to all sports. If you’re good at it once, it’ll keep you coming back for more. If you’ve made it to a peak or a bald, you’ve seen an incredible view. Making it the top, in my opinion, is addictive. You feel accomplished and fearless. Unlike what you may do in other areas of life, you see immediate results from all your efforts, and you accomplished something with your weekend (or weekday!) It’s an extra confidence boost, and who doesn’t need one of those every now and then?

4. It's an opportunity to spend time with family or friends.

Like we said in the beginning, hiking can be as difficult or as relaxing as you make it. This makes it a great activity to do with family or friends. If you’re like me, the people in your life have varying abilities. Getting outdoors together and taking a break from all the distractions gives you and your group a chance to really hang out by chatting your way through the woods. If you’re hitting a pretty tough trail together, you may be in for some serious bonding too. So, grab a friend!

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5. You'll have an excuse to take a technology break.

Since working remotely means I spend entire days on the computer, I sincerely welcome a break from my cell phone and laptop at the end of the week. So when I do have a chance to hike, the break from technology is one of my absolute favorite reasons. With so many items on my to-do list and e-mails popping up regularly, hiking is my excuse to turn off all those thoughts. After getting a break and clearing my mind, I’m able to get much more done, and I won’t feel nearly as overwhelmed. Give it a shot!

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