Get Fit, Feel Free AND Have Fun!

hiking2When it comes to working out and staying motivated one of the best approaches is to find an activity you love. Spending time immersed in an activity that is physically challenging, but also enjoyable, will never feel like exercise and will keep you coming back. For me, that activity is hiking.

I got into hiking a few years ago and its truly an activity I cherish. I honestly can’t remember who introduced me to it. I’m guessing it was probably something I ended up trying from a desire to do something different. That’s typically how most hobbies begin for me. I get bored really easily so I’m always trying something different, especially when it comes to working out. I’ve been working out since I was 17, and have tried just about every fitness craze. I’m constantly looking for new adventures to rev up my workout. I’ve done kickboxing, spinning, hot yoga, cross fit, boot camps, and Zumba -just to name a few. But nothing has lasted as long as my love for hiking.

Hiking satisfies a multitude of my needs simultaneously. It provides physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits to me. That is what keeps me coming back. It also offers variety. Even though I tend to hike the same trail all the time, it’s just as challenging as the first time I did it, and it feels like a different workout every time. I absolutely love exercising outside. Being in nature makes me so happy; it’s the ultimate stress reliever for me. Finally, it nourishes my spirit. NOTHING makes me more aware of God’s presence and how real He is than when I’m near the ocean or when I’m in the mountains. The views and the scenery are so spectacular it confirms for me that God exists. I feel closer to God when I’m in nature than I do any other time. That’s why I prefer to hike alone. I occasionally go with a friend, but I typically go by myself.

So, because I love it so much, I wanted to offer you some insights about it, and make the case for why you might want to consider it.

1.  Hiking is inexpensive. It doesn’t cost anything to get on most trails. To reduce injury you will probably want to invest in some good hiking shoes and maybe a hiking/walking stick.

2. Hiking promotes mental health. Exercise in general helps reduce depression, stress and anxiety. This is especially the case for hiking. Hiking outdoors will help you feel closer to nature, which may increase your happiness and make you feel more fulfilled.

3. Hiking is a great workout. Outdoor hiking can be on a level, well maintained path, or up a pathless mountain. This makes it excellent for people who are hoping to improve their fitness level. They can continue to take more and more difficult paths. Also, depending on how hard you push yourself, hiking is a cardiovascular activity. So it has cardiovascular benefits, such as reducing the chances of heart disease. Finally, it’s excellent for muscle tone, especially cross country hiking because your body and legs have to compensate for the rough terrain by working harder.

4. Hiking allows you to experience nature and all of its splendor. There isn’t a gym workout that compares to the scenery you get on a hiking trail. Whenever I hike I make sure I take it all in. I don’t ever allow myself to take the views for granted. I never tire of looking at the city of Atlanta from atop Kennesaw Mountain.

5. Hiking is appropriate for any fitness level. Flat trails are ideal for beginners, whereas anyone looking for a challenging workout can venture onto trails with more hills and rough terrains. Uphill hiking can burn similar amounts of calories to jogging, up to 370 calories an hour.

Finally, I can’t end this blog without making a few recommendations. Hiking trails are plentiful all across the country and around the world. If you’re looking for a trail in your area there is an awesome site that provides information on hiking trails in every state. It’s www.AmericanTrails.org.

Georgia is included on that site, but I want to offer you a short cut. We have several trails available in our state parks. Click on this link for the list of all of our state parks -www.gastateparks.org. My favorite is Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park www.nps.gov/kemo because it’s beautiful and close to where I live.

Question: Now that you have all this information about hiking, do you think you’ll give it a try?

2 thoughts on “Get Fit, Feel Free AND Have Fun!

  1. Georgia State Parks are a great choice for so many reasons! The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library has a park pass that can be “checked out” by patrons with a library card (as you would check out a book). Also so many of our parks offer hiking, as Latrina has told us, but many offer hiking plus another healthy activity such as swimming, kayaking, or canoeing. Many have bike rentals so we can ride and enjoy nature’s abundant beauty in a safe environment. Also, cabin rentals are really affordable, so a weekend adventure could include a combination of 3 or 4 healthy activities, especially hiking!

    • Wow! Thanks for the great advice Kathy. I actually forgot that we can get free passes from the Atlanta Public Library…that’s an awesome resource I need to take advantage of soon! :-)

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