I’ve done a fair amount of hiking in my day, and have enjoyed it greatly. Many people enjoy the health benefits and the diversity of hiking. You rarely get bored, especially when hiking in unfamiliar surroundings. And even if you have hiked the same trails before, there are always new things to see… if you keep your eyes peeled.
With plenty of areas to explore, and different types and difficulty level of hikes, you may find hiking to be the perfect sport for you. I know I love it! So today, we’ll talk about the different types of hikes and explain some of the things you’ll need while hiking.
If you’re not quite hooked on hiking like I am, I’ll start by answering a question that I get asked a lot. Sometimes it appears sarcastic in tone… but, most of the time it’s a genuine question that I was surprised not more people know the answer to.
What is Hiking and How is it Different from Walking?
Hiking is generally characterized as medium to long walks along trails or footpaths, typically out in nature. Walking for pleasure (or early hiking) originated in Europe sometime around the 18th century. Today, it’s one of the most popular outdoor recreational sports done for enjoyment, as well as cardiovascular and strength exercise.
Hiking differs from walking in regards that you’re not just moving forward on a straight, smooth surface. Walking may occur on a street, a track, or even on a treadmill. You generally stay at the same elevation or close to it. With hiking, you have the challenge of more rough terrain, possible obstacles to avoid, and may have significant elevation changes.
11 Reasons why People Enjoy Hiking so Much
1. Hiking Can Be Done in a Wonderful Setting
Many people avoid exercise because they feel bored doing the same things day in and day out. With hiking, you can always choose a new place to go. A different location, perhaps a new hiking path or route, the possibilities can be endless. And with your setting being in nature instead of the gym, you can appreciate the beauty of the great outdoors instead of the boredom of the same gym, day after day.
2. Hiking Can Be Easily Done With a Friend or a Group
One thing many people love about hiking is that it’s inclusive. You don’t have to go it alone in the great outdoors. It’s generally safer and more fun to take along another person or go with a small group of people. You can hike with a friend, a spouse or significant other, or your friends or children. Having that bonding time with Mother Nature as your backdrop can make for a lot of fun and some wonderful memories.
3. Hiking Is Relatively Cheap To Get Into
Compared to other sports or outdoor activities, hiking can be done on a relatively small budget. At the minimum, one might only need a good pair of hiking boots or trail running shoes. You can add various other equipment as you see fit… such as water bottles, hiking socks, a GPS, or other backpacking equipment. The more you advance into the sport of hiking, the more likely you might need some of these advanced items.
4. Hiking Can Be Enjoyed By People of All Ages
Hiking is one of the outdoor activities that has virtually no age requirement or limit. Both young and old alike can enjoy exploring the great outdoors and can even do it together. If you can walk, you generally can hike. Choosing the appropriate length and difficulty of a hike is important. However, there is something for everyone when it comes to hiking in most areas.
5. Hiking Is Great Exercise
Hiking provides wonderful exercise for everyone. Whether it’s a shorter, more leisurely hike, or a longer hike with steep elevation changes, hiking increases your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. You can take any hike at a slower, more enjoyable pace, or push yourself to the limit with a faster, more aggressive hike. Younger children on up to older adults can find hiking trails that suit a comfortable fitness level.
6. Hiking Can Be Done Year-round In Most Places
Depending on where you live, most hikers find that they can enjoy their exercise and sport of choice year-round. During summers or winters, specialized clothing can be worn to make up for high or low temperatures. The exception to this would include any places with extreme heat during the summer or especially frigid winters with a lot of snow and ice. In most places, hiking can be done year-round with minor adjustments to one’s wardrobe.
7. Hiking is a Low-Pressure, Non-Competitive Sport
There are a lot of people who do not enjoy competitive sports. The pressure to excel or the negative attitudes by their competition can sour an otherwise pleasant sport. With hiking, you don’t have to worry about anything competitive. You just pick a hike, find your route, and go. You can take it at your own comfortable pace, or try to move quicker for better exercise.
If you go alone, you have nobody to compete with. Even if you bring along another person or a few people, you usually aren’t racing, but enjoying time together in nature. Hiking is a naturally calm sport and activity.
8. Hiking Can Easily Be Turned Into a Weekend Getaway
If you love hiking as much as a lot of people do, you may find yourself wanting to travel a bit outside of your immediate area to enjoy new and exciting scenic hikes. With a little bit of planning and some camping/hiking equipment, you can integrate hiking into an overnight or weekend getaway. You can have enjoyable lifetime memories on a budget by enjoying the great outdoors with your spouse, friends, or family.
9. Hiking Is Great For Your Mental Health
As busy as life tends to be, it’s wonderful to be able to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Being in an outdoor, scenic setting can help us recharge our batteries and be quite relaxing. Being able to exercise, breathe and feel at peace around nature is something that almost anyone could benefit greatly from.
10. Outdoor Hiking Can Take Us Away From Technology for a Bit
One aspect of life most would agree about is that we spend far too much daily time using technology. Staring at screens on our phones, tablets, laptops, desktop monitors and TVs can end up straining our eyes, our brains, and even give us headaches. Having a nice block of time to enjoy nature, away from screens and technology, is both physically and mentally good for our overall health.
11. You May Encounter Amazing Animals during Your Hiking
One of the coolest aspects of hiking out in nature is coming across animals you don’t see very often. If you have photography equipment or even your phone, you may find a number of photo opportunities that you’d never have otherwise. Being able to see Mother Nature up close (hopefully not TOO close) can be a wonderful and exciting experience.
Final Thoughts on Why People Like Hiking
There you have it… 11 awesome and legit reasons why people like hiking. It makes you want try it out, doesn’t it? I mean… if you don’t already hike. And if you do, maybe you’ve found an even deeper appreciation for what hiking has to offer you, both mentally and physically.
Whether you can identify with some or all of the reasons listed above, I’d wager you’re having that “ah ha” moment, and are anxious to get out there on the next nice day! With spring upon us, you may want to lock away the snow gear and begin by locating some shorter to medium distance hiking trails in your immediate area… even bring some friends along!
And before long, you’ll be up for the challenge of a longer day-hike. Some may not even be too long of a drive from where you live. You just have to do your research. A quick online and search for hiking and backpacking opportunities in your area may do the trick.
Wherever you go, and no matter how far, I promise you’ll have a lot of fun… while getting great exercise and communing with nature. You’ll come up a different person!