I should hike more—correction; I genuinely want to hike more. I was reminded of this last weekend, when my husband and I decided to hike a trail inside the Spring Mountain Ranch State Park in Nevada. It was a perfect day for getting outside. We had clear, sunny blue skies, and it was a mild, comfortable 70-degree afternoon. We agreed it would be a waste not to get outdoors and enjoy our good weather.
To be honest, Mike and I are not big hikers, fitness buffs, or people who exercise all the time. Rather, we go in phases. However, we are trying very hard to increase our activity levels. We are a work in progress.
This last weekend, we passed up the casino, we said no to movies and dinner out, and we turned off our laptops. Instead, we went on a wonderful and happy hike together in the beautiful desert of Southern Nevada.
At Spring Mountain Ranch, we hiked along the dirt path for about an hour or so, gazing at all the striking desert landscapes, including the rugged and colorful mountains, the small green plants and spiky cacti, as well as the light blue sky above.
We felt happy on the hike—both of us. We were smiling, tranquil, and content. We walked, talked, and took-in nature together. On our hike, we felt ‘present.’ We were not worried or anxious. We were not thinking about the past, or about the future. We were just enjoying the day.
We then remembered how we felt two weekends ago when we went on a hike at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area; you know what—we felt great after that hike as well.
We wondered: Why did we feel better from a hike outdoors, more so than relaxing in our living room at home? I mean, hiking is exercise after all, and exercise is hard and annoying! Or so we thought.
Could it be the sunshine and vitamin D we soaked up that made us feel happier? Alternatively, perhaps the exercise helped us naturally feel better. Was it because we made a conscious choice to let go of most technological distractions during our hike? Was it the sound of the birds chirping, or the gentle rustling of the breeze? Was it an instinctive connection to nature?
It could be all these things, and more, according to scientific research. Many noteworthy studies continue to publish all the varied benefits of hiking and walking. This Huffington Post article discusses the many excellent benefits of hiking. The article is a worthwhile read about the correlation between happiness, health, and hiking. It ‘s an eye-opener just how great hikes are for us. There are many other articles explaining the vast benefits of hiking, including this article, this, and this.
I should know hikes are good for me. I know from personal experience that they are enjoyable. However, sometimes despite all this, I fail to remember how much I love being outside and I forget about the great benefits of hiking in the sunshine.
I no longer want to overlook the good feelings and improved healthiness I get from hikes, as I have done in the past. Therefore, I wrote down eight reasons why I’d like to go on more hikes in the future. They will serve as reminders for me. Perhaps they are good reminders for us all.
Why Hiking Improves Happiness
- Hiking (even light hikes) can help us feel happier.
- Hiking helps free ourselves from distractions, which in turn helps center us again.
- Getting exercise always makes us feel better afterwards.
- Getting vitamin D and sunshine is good for overall health.
- Engaging in physical activity reduces anxiety.
- Hiking is another form of exploring, which is always rewarding.
- Connecting with nature (seeing it, experiencing it) feels peaceful.
- Hiking is a good tool to help us better connect and enjoy quality time with loved ones.
Any activity that increases our happiness is one to pursue and engage in further. Thus, more hiking is in the works for me!
Question for Readers
What form of exercise, specific activity, or simple pleasure, makes you feel the best?
Please feel free leave your advice and feedback in the comment section.
Thank you for your readership!