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March 11, 2019

John Muir once eloquently quoted, and we couldn't agree more: “Keep close to Nature’s heart … and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean."

Hiking has many health benefits that one can gain by simply challenging what nature has given us. Besides the incredible views and unique vantage points, hiking can boost creativity, improve mental health, and help you along a weight loss or body strengthening journey. We've found some major benefits to getting outside.  Read up to get inspired!

Boost Your Creativity

If you're feeling the stress of life weighing you down, feeling stumped at work about a certain project, or not feeling as motivated - going on a hike can help you with that. Research  indicates that exposure to natural settings seems to replenish some lower-level modules of the executive attentional system and boost problem solving by 50%. So if the boss hands you a new project, put a hike into your calendar and step away from your desk to get the creativity juices flowing!

Step Away From Social

Getting into nature and off the phone has proven effects when it comes to living a happier life. One study stated, "a group experience of regularly monitored mountain hiking is associated with an improvement of hopelessness, depression, and suicide ideation in patients suffering from high-level suicide risk." You are bombarded every day with news and other people’s highlights of life, but it’s time to make some highlights of your own! Unplugging and getting your eyes off a screen can help relieve stress build-up and strengthen your mental health. Strong bodies are great, but a strong mind is essential.  So don't forget to put in the work to a healthier mental state.

Use Your Own Backyard

You don’t have to be climbing mountains to receive the benefits of a hike. It’s very easy to wish you were somewhere else, but try to appreciate your surroundings by exploring your hometown! Embrace being a tourist in your own city and step off the path into nature. Find a local park, nature reserve, or trails nearby and you’ll find yourself soaking in the beauty Mother Nature has to offer. Who knows, you may even become interested in bird calling if you’re out listening to the orchestra of the outdoors! On top of that awesome new bird-calling skill you might pick up, you'll be giving yourself a healthy dose of Vitamin D. Giving your body more Vitamin D has a lot of benefits but don't forget to grab that sunscreen!

Strengthen Your Whole Body

Getting off the treadmill and onto the beaten path can lead to better results in your exercise routine. If you think walking and hiking are the same, think again. Research shows that your joints, heart, and muscles perform in different ways in the two activities. In one studyit was revealed that uneven terrain (as opposed to a road or sidewalk) will cause the body to exert up to 28% more energy. So while you may think that the two activities are similar, boost your workout by exploring more! Adding more elements like backpacks filled with gear will also give you additional results. The extra weight will only help, we promise! So pack a light lunch, grab your camera, don't forget the water, and you're on your way to building more muscle.

The Challenges

Hiking can lead you to many places; however, you never want to end up somewhere unexpected without being prepared. Safety first! This is why having the right gear, being aware of yourself and your surroundings, and always leaving a note are essential.

      • Gear:  Women-specific gear is there for a reason. Our bodies are built differently and the outdoor industry is embracing that. Women-specific backpacks, clothing, and gear will only help you with every step. By having the right shoes, you'll avoid blisters. Using a fitting pack will distribute the weight better. Take the time to know your needs and be prepared.
      • Weather: We all know weather can change quickly without much warning. Be sure to check weather reports, precipitation expectations, wind speeds, and more. Also be conscious of the sun's light. The seasons bring different weather, but also different sunrise and sunset times. You don't ever want to get caught out in the dark, especially alone.
      • Food & Hydration: Because you are out on the trails in extended sunlight, varying elevation, and rough terrain, your body will have greater needs than, perhaps, a simple walk in the park. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. We can't stress this enough. Even before you trek, get yourself a glass of water and drink up. Dehydration is serious and can be lethal in the outdoors. Be prepared to drink 0.5-1.5 liters of water per hour during a strenuous hike. With all that water, you'll want to replenish your body with nutrients. A hike can be strenuous and because your body is working harder, it'll need fuel to keep it going. 

Don't let us scare you away from taking the leap though! Hiking can lead to so much happiness and isn't to be brushed away. Get prepared, challenge yourself, and we will be there to support you every step of the way. 


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