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Thought Piece

7 Positive Reasons Why You Should Go Hiking

By Mikey
Successfully sending volunteers abroad for 10 years

There is a shedload of studies and research available that reinforce the fact that hiking – and physical exercise in pretty much any form – is good for us. As a form of exercise, hiking is pretty cool because it allows you to see and experience places that you wouldn’t normally all while doing it at a pace that means you can fully digest your surroundings.  

Physically, there are numerous benefits and getting outside for even just short hikes on a regular basis has been associated with lowing the risk of heart disease, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, while also assisting in preventing type II diabetes. What’s more, hiking helps you to strengthen your body; not just your legs. When you are walking and scaling the array of surfaces that await, it engages your core and also gives your upper body a workout, especially if you have a full backpack on! 

The benefits connected to hiking don’t just stop in a physical sense, it’s just as valuable to your mental health as well, and given what sights you’ll see and the endorphins that will be released when you’re exercising your body on a hike, you can expect to feel pretty good about yourself!  

If you’re looking forward to overseas hikes in Africa when you are there volunteering, then the seven facts we’re going to bring to you in this article about how great hiking is will only serve to make you even more excited! 

1.     Become Happier When You Hike

By stepping out into nature, it decreases rumination. This is a term used by healthcare professionals which describes negative thought patterns that replay constantly in our heads, which often manifest themselves by reencountering frustrating, embarrassing or disappointing times in your life, for example. It’s underestimated a lot, but the feeling of happiness that being outdoors offers is a very real thing. 

2.     Sleep Better Thanks to Hiking

Did you know that when you have to walk or climb over terrain that’s uneven, it uses an impressive 28% more energy compared to walking over the flat ground? Exercise has been linked to better sleep for a long, long time now, and you will find that after hiking, not only will the quality of your sleep improve, but the duration of your slumber will too. One of the main reasons for this is that exercise causes increased levels of adenosine to be released in the brain - this chemical causes you to feel sleepy – so when this occurs you’ll sleep well and feel better when you wake up. It’s a positive cycle you won’t regret getting into! 

3.     Hiking Boosts Your Memory

Research has proven that people who frequently get out and enjoy time in natural settings, including those who go hiking, develop enhanced memory and recollection skills. So, if you feel like you’re on the forgetful side of life, then hiking will help you to improve this which can be quite handy for all concerned.  

4.     Hiking Lowers Feelings of Depression and Anxiety

Not only can hiking effectively lower stress levels, but it’s also been positively linked to reducing anxiety and depression because it releases endorphins (the happy hormone). Endorphins counteract the feelings that make you feel low and give you a welcome lift. If you are someone who often experiences feelings of being a little ‘deflated’, expect hiking to be on your side when it comes to combatting this. 

5.     Hiking Advances Your Problem-Solving and Creativity

Studies have revealed that when you spend time outdoors it develops the attention span and the creative, problem-solving side of your brain by up to 50 percent! These studies also point to the fact that if you want to get those creative juices flowing, exercising it the best way to do it. It’s considered that due to the additional mental stimulus from exercising it feeds your cognitive resources and restores your depleted attention circuits, releasing more brain power which can be utilised in other ways. 

6.     Hiking Gives You ‘Me Time’

Even though hiking is a very social activity, and if you are in a foreign country on a hike, the chances are that you’ll be with others, this doesn’t mean that you can’t take some time during the hike to reflect, revitalise and reconnect with yourself. Having the opportunity to tune into your own feelings can help you recognise exactly how you are feeling; whether that be a little tense or perhaps really good about life and things in general, hiking serves as a wonderful tool to identify your true feelings which is very important.  

7.     Become More Social When You’re A Hiker

If you consider yourself to be a bit of an introvert or you find it hard to initiate conversations with people, hiking is a very applicable way to help socialise and even forge bonds with fellow hikers. If you hike, the chances are that the interactions you have will encourage you to participate in conversation not just when hiking but in other settings too.  

Challenge yourself and sign up for an overseas volunteering experience that incorporates incredible hikes to some of the world’s most remarkable locations!

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