Hiking is good for the soul. Not only does it get you out in the fresh air, but it keeps you fit and healthy.

You get to see new parts of the world, with very little equipment. Make sure you take your walking stick and a camping blanket if you plan to spend the night. Oh, and a camera to photograph nature at its most glorious. You can even bring a hammock and between two trees!

Here are five reasons why hiking is good for you:

1. Nothing gives you a perspective like hiking

Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail as a way of coping with her mother’s death, her issues with drug use and her divorce. Her experiences became the book Wild. The movie featured Reese Witherspoon and inspired a new generation of women to get out and hike the trail for themselves. It wasn’t just about going for a really long walk however. It was about having a little space to understand what has happened in your life. It’s about giving you perspective and walking your way to something new.

2. Hiking keeps you fit

You can burn 440 calories per hour out hiking. This however can be increased with the technique of Nordic walking. For this all you need are a pair of lightweight walking shoes and some good quality trekking poles or hiking sticks. Nordic walking helps to build up the upper body strength, giving your stronger arms and shoulders. The motion of cross country skiing helps to keep you fit and increases lung function.

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3. Hiking makes you happy

Hiking is not only good exercise, but it makes you feel happy. Hiking releases endorphins and serotonin, the happy hormones. These help you to deal with anxiety and will stave away depression. Serotonin helps protect against feelings of loneliness and improves your mood. These chemicals are essential to keep you feeling happy and positive every day.

4. Hiking shows you the best of the Great Outdoors

From the Rockies, down to the Florida Keys, through to New England in the fall, America has a Great Outdoors to be truly envied. Getting in touch with nature can really put you in touch with your spirituality. There is spectacular scenery all over the country and it’s not to be missed. All you need to do is pack a small tent, and you have turned your hiking trip into a holiday.

5. Hiking is for all ages

Hiking is something that is suitable for ages 5-95. You may only walk a few miles. Or you might choose to walk the Appalachian Trail in the style of Bill Bryson, whose story was made into the movie A Walk in the Woods featuring Nick Nolte and Robert Redford. You can walk with family or friends, and you don’t need any prior training. You just put one foot in front of the next and enjoy the view.


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