Stress Relief-Let’s Go Hiking!

There is something relaxing about taking a hike outside on a nice day.  Feeling the cool breeze and warm sun on your face as you surround yourself with the beauty of the countryside has a calming effect, at least on me.

As I was looking for ways to relieve stress I found that many believe that hiking is one way of doing just that.  Here are a few things I found as I was researching this topic.

When you hike you are getting the health benefits of exercise such as increasing muscle mass, improving balance and good heart health plus the sights and smells of nature boost your mood thus decreasing anxiety and stress.

According to Ottawalife mild exercise reduces fatigue by 65% and increases energy by 20%.
In an article by AZ.Central they say “hiking is one of the most effective methods for combating stress on a regular basis.”
I like this quote from The Wellpath “Happy Hormones – Those who hike weekly or biweekly have increased levels of endorphins, norepinephrine, and a stronger internal system of stress-management.”
I am sure that to get the benefits of hiking it would have to be on a somewhat consistent basis.  I do walk several times a day with my dog.  Most of the time on area sidewalks but many times we end up off the beaten track and it feels more like a hike.
I had to google the difference between walking and hiking,

“Hiking and walking differ from the path the person takes. Hiking obviously involves walking. However, when you hike, it means you are walking from a lower elevation to a higher elevation. On the other hand, when you walk, it means that you are only trekking a relatively smooth and flat path without too many hurdles.”

When I am on a true hike it is usually 4-5 miles.  Most of the time I like to go with others on a hike.  I like people familiar with the trail to lead the way.  I find most of my hikes through MeetUp.  When you go with a MeetUp group you also get the added benefit of socialization.
While I was on vacation last year in the North Carolina Mountains I found a hiking outfitter group that lead the way to some lovely waterfalls.  Going with this group I did not have to worry about getting lost in the North Carolina Mountains and that is always a good thing.
What I love about hiking is that I am getting some needed exercise.  Hiking in new locations is, to me, a fun adventure.  I do feel calm being out in nature, taking in all the sites and smells of the outdoors.
I believe we have to be aware of our health and physical ability before we jump into hiking.  I see hikes on meetups that are 10+ miles and are listed as strenuous and I know immediately that would not be the hike for me.  I am more a 4-mile girl on mildly rugged terrain.
Here are a few links to some hikes I have taken
Weather is a factor in hiking.  I was looking at my local meetup site and some hikes are planned this week but rain is in the forecast nearly all week.  Call me a wimp but I don’t like hiking in the rain or in muddy conditions.  That being said I will plan to go on a hike with a group on the next dry day.  Every time I go I do feel the benefit of working out, meeting new friends, and the calming effect of being outside.
Happy Hiking Everyone!