Take A Hike! (The benefits of exercising outdoors)
It’s officially fall, which means now is the time of year to do all things outdoors–apple picking, pumpkin carving, and, especially, hiking. Not only is the temperature perfect for working up a sweat, the benefits to hiking go beyond the physical:
You go on your own time: Whether you’re a morning person or evening person when it comes to exercise, hiking isn’t something you need to sign up for. Just keep in mind that parks are usually only open from dawn to dusk. You may also want to look up the weather to make sure the conditions are good.
You can bring (or not bring) anyone: You can make this exercise as social as you want. Hiking is something you can do completely alone (as long as you’re being smart and safe) to get some time to yourself. Or, bring friends and/or family to make it a healthy, social outing.
Pet-friendly: Most parks allow dogs to tag along. By taking your furry friend, you’ll kill two birds with one stone. A long hike will get the exercise your dog needs, and should (hopefully) make them tired enough so that you can have some time to yourself to relax.
Improves your mental health: Research is constantly showing us that time outside is incredibly important to our minds and our bodies. As humans, we are meant to be outside in nature, moving and breathing in the world around us. In fact, trees have been shown to boost our mood: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_trees_can_make_you_happier
Make it how you want it: Whether you’re looking for a hard workout on some rough and diverse terrain or a leisurely stroll on a path through the woods, hikes can easily be adjusted to meet your needs. There’s plenty of trails out there that are fit for all levels depending on what kind of hike you want to take.
Potentially keeps your eyes in check: Research is also showing that the reason why our eyes are going so bad so quickly isn’t because of what we originally thought–that we spend too much time looking at our screens. In fact, it may be because we are spending less time outside, where the natural light contributes to eye growth and development: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/well/live/for-better-vision-let-the-sunshine-in.html
It’s free: All you need is a few supplies to keep you going–some water, sunscreen, a hat/sunglasses, snacks, and maybe a map. There’s no cost to being outside.
Of course, there’s no reason to limit outdoor activity to just hiking. Biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and swimming are all great, but hiking requires less equipment and specialized skills. Just make sure you have the right footwear and check for any potential ticks afterwards.
Take advantage of this weather and your local hiking spots and improve your body and mind. Be sure to be on the lookout for future Gage hikes at Cheslen Preserve or the other Natural Lands Preserves to get an idea of some of the great trails out there.