How Is Hiking Good For You? | Hikers University

If you happen to live in the woods, go for a hiking excursion and make the most of the trails if you're as adventurous. But how is hiking good for you?

Hiking in nature has become so beneficial to our well-being and health that some medical practitioners are even prescribing it as a supplement to other disease therapies. The synergistic effect of time spent in nature and physical activity makes hiking a perfect activity to boost overall health and wellness.

Hiking conveys benefits beyond what you get from a mundane exercise routine. A hiking experience is truly unique, and research suggests that it keeps your relationships happier, boosts creativity, helps you remain calm, sharpens your mind, and oxygenates your heart.

Besides being good for our bodies, hiking is great for our relationships, minds, and moods. Putting on a pack and heading out on a path is wonderful for your heart and soul, especially when you’re alone and can let your mind roam.

After speaking with various experts and going on many hiking adventures ourselves, we have put together this guide to help you learn more about the benefits of hiking and why it is good for us.

Table of contents


How is Hiking Good for You?

According to studies, trees and plants exude certain organic compounds that provide extra health benefits to hikers. These compounds boost our overall psychological well-being and improve our mood. Here's what science has to say about hiking's advantages.

Sharpens Mind

We often find it difficult to justify taking time out of the day to go hiking. However, research reveals that hiking not only feels nice, but it may also benefit our mental health.

Whether you’re walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, or using an elliptical trainer, all forms of exercises are good for us. However, hiking is a form of full body workout that works out your lungs and gets your heart rate up to keep you feeling younger and stronger.

Hiking, on the other hand, includes something that many other types of exercise do not: trails. As a result, it necessitates navigating in an unpredictable environment. All of the encounters you might have on a trail require changes to your route, which is good for your brain. Wild animals crossing your way, trail markers, hidden obstacles, overhanging branches, and slippery dirt— all of these situations might require you to think and adjust your trail accordingly.

Hiking works the parts of your brain that help you plan life—for example, the hippocampus and the retrosplenial cortex, which also helps with memory—which is why hiking not only benefits your heart but also keeps your mind sharp.

Enhances Mood

One of the best ways to relieve stress is by exercising. However, hiking is a bit different from typical forms of working out. First of all, it is an outdoor activity performed in the natural setting. While other physical activity also relies on nature—for example, cycling, backpacking, or river rafting—those are often less accessible to many people and require more commitment and time than a simple hike.

The great thing about hiking is that it can take place in any setting, wherever you are because natural trails are available almost everywhere. From a mountain trial, to a public garden or a city park, hiking allows you to have that dose of nature that keeps you feeling light and happy.

The advantages of exercising in nature have been well documented. According to studies, walking in natural spaces helps us recover from the mental tiredness, also known as attention overload that comes from working and living in a society where cell phones and computers are a constant distraction—better than walking in a cityscape or along a road.

Being in nature may also be relaxing, and studies have shown that people who spend time walking in nature are less worried and experience less rumination, which may help to prevent depression. While it's unclear why nature gives these psychological benefits, researchers have discovered that being in nature fosters sentiments of awe, which is a powerful emotion and makes you feel more generous.

Improves Relationships

Hiking is obviously beneficial to our physical and mental wellness. However, there is growing evidence that it benefits our relationships as well. One explanation is that most of us hike with others, and walking together can provide unique feelings of closeness—and safety. Having a companion along can be a great way to connect with another person in a situation free of extraneous distractions, even in less desperate circumstances. According to other research, being in nature can improve our relations by making us more generous, helpful, and empathic.

What about going trekking by yourself? Personally, we have found that trekking alone can help with relationships for a variety of reasons. Hiking makes you feel amazing, strong, independent, which helps to reduce stress and improve your relations with others by being more optimistic and positive. It also helps to refresh the mind and increase attention span, making you more alert and mindful of your relations.

For anyone who spends a lot of time in strenuous jobs, it can be revitalizing to let go of that obligation for a while and go on a hike. After all, it can’t help but revitalize you when you give yourself some time alone, making you more mentally available to others and of course, more attentive to your work.

Boosts Creativity

Walking in nature allows the mind to wander free in creative directions. For instance, you may not feel as productive or creative at home or at the office but going on a hike can instantly get your creative juices flowing with ideas coming up from some subconscious place when you weren't thinking.

Though we frequently hear about philosophers or artists who have found creative inspirations in natural settings, research is only now beginning to investigate the link between being creative and in nature. According to a study, young people in an were assessed before and after spending three days hiking in the wilderness, and the participants demonstrated greater creative thinking and problem-solving after the experience.

Builds Better Interactions with Nature

Hiking, in addition to being good for us, may also benefit the environment. After all, if we have the stamina to walk longer distances and avoid using cars, we can lessen our carbon footprint. Hiking also benefits the environment indirectly by increasing our connection to nature. Having a healthy relationship with the natural environment can motivate us to care about its fate and contribute to conservation efforts. According to at least one study, having a personal connection to nature makes us more likely to want to protect it. That means that outdoor activities like hiking can benefit both humans and the environment.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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