Benefits of Hiking

for Health, Fitness,

and Wellness

There are a lot of benefits of hiking!

Hiking can save your life. It saved my life!

It made me healthier. I met my girlfriend because of it. I think that hiking will make me live longer.

Hiking can do the same for you. And the best thing about it – is it’s easy to do and gain all the health, fitness, and wellness benefits that come with it.

You can’t get that quickly in a gym, so you have to pay a monthly fee.

No, you need to get outside, in nature, and reap the benefits of hiking yourself.

Still, want to know more? I have 22 reasons why you should embrace hiking!


Benefits of Hiking for Health and Fitness

Hiking is a wonderful way to get fit and stay in good health.

It’s easy to use hiking to accomplish that, too.

Let’s check out some of the best health and fitness benefits in the hiking world.


1 – Hiking is a Full Body Workout

You’d think hiking is just a leg workout.

But in reality, it’s a full-body workout. It is for many reasons, too!

Number one is a leg workout, of course. You use your legs more than anything else. But you don’t just use your legs.

You use your mind!

You exercise your mind because you’re looking around, watching your steps, and taking nature all in. There is a lot to see in hiking and a lot to process. Some folks in the medical field tend to claim that using your full attention frequently can help prevent memory loss when you’re older. Hiking is a workout session for the mind.


2 – Hiking is Good for Your Joints

By hiking, you’re walking and stretching your legs and arms, toes and fingers, feet and hands.

This is wonderful for your joints!

People who tend to get stiff joints are getting it because they’re doing activities that allow them to get stiff in the first place. Those sort of things is when you’re not moving and sitting more. Hiking is a very moving-friendly activity; therefore, you’re giving your joints a workout.


3 – Hiking is Good for Your Heart

One of the best benefits of hiking is good it does for your heart.

Hiking will raise your heart rate. Think of it as an exercise routine for your heart.

Even a simple, easy hike is enough to exercise your heart.

This will benefit your heart health in so many ways. It can decrease bad cholesterol. It can reduce hypertension which leads to high blood pressure. It can even improve glucose tolerance just by getting outside and walking.

The more you hike, the better. The more moderately difficult the hike is, the better. But you can start with easy hikes and still gain heart health benefits from it.


4 – Hiking will Give You Better Stability

When I first started hiking, my balance was horrible.

I’d have to take it slow when crossing creeks and walking across a down tree to avoid getting my feet wet.

But the more I hiked, the more I got used to hiking in the elements, and the better my stability and balance became.

Hiking more and more will help you develop a better balance. It will make you a more stable walker and hiker in general.

I would recommend people with balance issues start hiking as a possible way to correct it, but I am not a medical expert, so make sure you talk to your doctor beforehand.


5 – Hiking Can Give Muscles

I’m no bodybuilder by any means.

And hiking isn’t going to give you huge muscles.

But it still builds muscles. It builds muscles that will benefit your life in terms of walking, bike riding, running, and your future of doing those things.

My leg muscles look the best because of my hiking and biking routines. I feel like I can do anything involving my legs because of what hiking has done for me.


6 – Hiking is a Good Exercise Balance

The benefits of hiking for fitness also cover your balance of fitness.

By balance of fitness, I mean differentiating your workout routine, so you don’t burn out.

When I first got into cycling, I rode so much that I hated it. It was doing so much good for me, but I was beginning to decrease my riding because I felt monotonous about biking. Then I found hiking. Hiking became the perfect balance allowing me to embrace the two, switch back and forth, and not get sick of either of them.

Now I do both of them every week, and I love it.

Whatever your exercise routine is, adding hiking to the mix can help prevent you from burning out.


7 – Hiking Will Help You Lose Weight

Many people don’t realize the benefits of hiking in weight loss.

Hiking will help you lose the weight you’d like to shed.

Experts often recommend about thirty minutes to two hours a day of exercise. Walking is a part of the exercise! Running is too! Walking or running down a hiking trail will only add to the fitness activity because the elements will be a bit more rugged.

I hike anywhere from ten to thirty miles a week. I mainly hike on the weekends. Besides adding a few bike days during the week to balance it out, hiking has increased my weight.

And during Snake Road Season, I tend to make several trips up and down the road, which really helps me lose a few extra pounds.


8 – Hiking is a Low Impact on Fitness

Running is hard!

Trail running is even harder!

Bicycling can be difficult, too, especially when there are hills along your ride route.

But hiking is as simple as walking. Because that’s what it is in the end. Walking is a very low impact on your body in terms of fitness.

Running and even cyclists risk injuries and potential medical problems later down the road. This is because of the high impact those activities have on the body and bones of the person who does it. You can ask any runner about it, and I’m sure they’ll get something along those lines.

But walking down a hiking trail is low impact but still enough to be called an effective form of fitness.

Hiking is an excellent active rest day exercise after a few days of high-impact fitness regimens.


9 – Hiking is Good for Your Bones

The health benefits of hiking also impact your overall bone health.

By hiking, you put weight on your bones. This means that your bones and the muscles around your bones will work harder to keep you stable.

Working out your bones and the core muscles that support them will make you a stronger hiker.

Has there ever been a time when you were injured and had to rest for an extended period?

I know I’ve experienced that. I was forced to bed rest for about a week. Once I could move around, my bones were so stiff and aching that it was hard to walk. It took me a while to walk and gain my balance again.

Hiking will constantly keep those critical bones and muscles working. You won’t be waking up stiff and in pain after making hiking a habit.


10 – Hiking is an Exercise Motivator

I hate the gym!

I can’t stand going to one. I don’t want to use machines that other people touch. I don’t want to deal with everyone and their noises while working out. I don’t want to wait for machines to be unoccupied and then feel awkward when other people are waiting for me to finish.

When I go to a gym, I’m not motivated to work out. I’ve wasted time, effort, and money on failed gym memberships.

But hiking is so much different.

You don’t feel like you’re exercising. You’re one with nature and too busy in awe while looking around at things. There is plenty of stuff in the woods to keep your mind off the fact that you’re working out.

Hiking will motivate you because it’s fun!


The Benefits of Hiking for Your Wellness and Psyche

Hiking is an excellent form of wellness for your mind and psyche.

Hiking even just a mile a day is said to be a way of decreasing your chances of getting Alzheimer’s when you’re older.

Nature is good medicine, so many people miss out on the opportunity of nature providing that for them.

Make sure you’re not one of them.


11 – Hiking Can Help with Depression

When you’re depressed, you feel as if you’re not wanted or can’t find happiness like you used to.

Pull on a pair of hiking boots and find the closest nature trail to you.

Take a hike!

Let the things that make you depressed leave you while you focus on the beauty and art of nature. It isn’t some manufactured sadness machine like everything else. It’s real, and it’s rugged.

And it makes you feel so good to find something like that, love it, and feel like you were meant to be a part of it.

Hiking is the leading cause of curing my bouts of depression. Hiking has led me to achieve all of my happiest moments.

I was in the wrong place before I started hiking and biking. It got me out of the darkness I was in. It made me feel alive again. I even met my true love through hiking and at a time when I thought I’d be alone forever.

Hiking was my cure for depression, and I think it could be your cure, too.


12 –  Hiking will Help Improve Your Sleeping Routine

Sleep is important!

Some experts say your lifespan will be decreased without a good amount of sleep each night.

Hiking is a wonderful way to improve your sleep routines.

It is a good amount of exercise that will tire you out at the end of the day. Getting outside and getting exposure to the sun will also help put you to sleep at night. An evening hike might also be very beneficial for your sleep routine if you sleep during the daylight hours.

I had a lot of sleeping issues before I was a hiker myself. Now I sleep like a baby almost every single night.

And sleeping outside in a tent during an overnight hike? That’s a whole different lovely sleeping experience altogether!


13 – Hiking will Make Your Happier

There’s something about nature that makes me happy.

It excites me!

It makes me feel like a kid again.

That’s probably because, as a kid, I explored. I was constantly in the woods, playing with friends, and camping. We didn’t call it hiking back then. It was just childhood adventuring. I even remember riding by mountain bike through the woods.

Then I grew up, got a car, got a job, went to college, forgot all about the adventures, and lost much of that childhood happiness.

Until I started hiking – and now it’s all back with me. Hiking is my key to happiness, and I bet it could be your key to happiness if you let it be!


14 – Hiking is a Good Way of Relieving Stress

The best way to deal with stress is to get away from it so that it cannot continue to haunt you.

Be it work stress. Stress from friends and family. Stress from school. Whatever stresses you out, it is best to get away from it and not have it come knocking on your door.

Do you know where the best place to get away from stress is?


No cell phone signal. No convenient way for someone to drive to you. Only you, nature, and others are trying to accomplish the same thing you are.

It is a wonderful way to leave stress behind for a little while and enjoy being calm.

I can be so stressed out that I feel like I’m going to explode, and after the first ten minutes of a hiking trip, the stress is gone completely. That’s all it takes.


15 – Hiking Boosts Your Mental Wellbeing

Now I’m not a doctor, and I’m not trying to give you medical advice.

I’m merely promoting hiking as a healthy fitness and psyche activity.

But with that being said, I’d instead let nature impact my mental health and well-being than some drug. I know some anti-depressant drugs help certain people, and you should consult your doctor about it first, but nature is my anti-depressant, and it’s the only one I need.

Some studies suggest that drugs in the form of pills shorten your lifespan. They’re usually easy to abuse, and many people get addicted to them. The side effects can be insane, and sometimes people have reverse effects from using them. I once used an anti-depressant labeled to help you quit smoking and it made me angrier than I’d ever been and was a side effect, too. I quickly stopped taking them.

But nature… Nature doesn’t have these strange side effects.

Usually, the side effects of nature and hiking are you want to do it more because it helps improve your mental well-being.

I’d choose nature over a pill any day of the week, and I’m living proof that hiking works.


16 – Hiking Gives You a Break From Technology Overload

Smartphones! Bluetooth! iPads! Computers! 5G!

Everything is technologically connected these days.

I’ve seen outdoor grills that can connect to Bluetooth and allow you to adjust how it cooks your food by utilizing an app on your phone.

Everything can be automated these days using technology.

If I didn’t want to write this article, I could use bot software to write it for me. But I love writing and could never do that!

The problem with all this technology and automation is that it leaves us with nothing to do. We’re not learning anything new because it is automatically done for us. Yeah, I want to be blunt. Automation is going to make humans dumber.

Talk about a technology overload!

But never fear because a hiking trail could be nearby!

And most hiking trails don’t have cell phone signals. And you should turn on airplane mode and just focus on nature.

Unplug for a little while. It is the best high I have ever gotten. Just unplug and be one with nature.


17 – Hiking Can Make You Smarter

There isn’t any automation in hiking.

You have to use your brain and common sense to navigate and stay safe in the unforgiving ruggedness of nature.

Hiking requires you to watch your surroundings at all times. You don’t want to fall. You don’t want to step on a snake. You don’t want to trip over a root. You have to watch everywhere around you to maintain a safe walk constantly.

This makes you smarter because you’re using your attention span, brain, and memory to get you through the trail.

And if you’re like my girlfriend and me, you want to learn about the things you see on the trail.

We love to learn about plants, bugs, animals, trees, fossils, and even Native American Rock Art that we’ve found while hiking.

That allows us to mix up a specific amount of technology through research based on what we’ve found and learned in nature.

Nature allows us technologically advanced automated robot humans to use our brains again.


18 – Hiking Will Make You More Aware of the Finer Details

Because you’re looking everywhere to keep yourself safe and see nature’s wonders, you’re changing how you look at things.

Be sure to slow down on your hikes. Stop and smell the flowers as they say. This means to slow down and stop here and there to check out a plant, bug, or whatever little thing that might be around.

Do this enough, and you’ll be able to spot so many things that are so well hidden by nature.

One great activity I recommend is mushroom hunting! Start by just trying to spot and identify them. Get you a good mushroom identification book. After placing them comfortably and confidently, you can try to find edible ones.

Edible wild mushrooms are some of the best foods in nature. They can even replace meat for vegans or folks who have a meat allergy.

Once you identify the little things in nature, you’ll also notice yourself doing it in the real world. That can help improve your work and everything else.


19 – Hiking Can Help You Make Friends

Before I got into hiking, I made lousy friendship choices.

I would befriend people who would drag me down. People who want me to just party all night and be sick all the next day. We’d waste our money on worthless things. And usually, we’d get into it, and the friendship would die.

That’s no way to live a life.

Hiking changed that for me!

I met a friend and started hiking with her; now we’re a pair. We live together. She is the love of my life. I would have never found her if it wasn’t for hiking because I had given up on trying to find someone.

I’ve made so many incredible friends from hiking. People who treat me like actual friends.

If you need friends, I’m telling you to take a hike because the benefits of hiking are nothing but good.


20 – Hiking Can Improve Your Family Relationships

Take your family hiking.

If you have older family members, try to get them outside, even on super easy short trails.

Chances are, they’ve experienced hiking in their youth.

By getting them outside, you might allow them to relive their youth and bring back memories. I’ve seen it happen, and it is so sweet to see.

Get your family out on the trail. It allows them to be a kid again. It enables them to live longer and healthy life.

It’s a great way to reconnect with one another in nature without technology dragging you down.


21 – Hiking Can Make Your Children Healthier

Children are facing a significant problem that many of us never faced.

Technology dependency!

Kids these days are raised in technology and to simply deprive them of it means that you deprive them of getting a good job later on in life and learning the basics of living. This is because that is how fast technology will grow. It will be a significant job factor and living conditions in a few short years.

So, we can’t just disallow them to use technology.

But obesity rates, high blood pressure, and all sorts of health problems in children are increasing.

It is obviously due to lack of activity and lack of sunshine.

Get them outside and hiking, even if just once a week. Make them turn the phone off, grab a trekking pole, and be a kid outdoors for a little while.

They get exercise. They get vitamin D from the sunlight. They get a chance to experience nature like we did when we were kids. They need to be outside once in a while.

My number one tip is to choose a trail with a lot to see. Choose a trail that the kid will love to look at everything on, learn about stuff, and want more of.

Get kids addicted to hiking!


22 –  Hiking Will Allow You to Help Save the Environment

Hiking will make you fall in love with nature.

Once you see acts of destruction in nature, you tend to want to protect them.

I’m not talking about political differences, such as cutting trees down or prescribed burning debates.

I’m talking about people who purposely destroy nature through things like littering. After you begin to love nature, you’ll start to want to protect it.

I try to pick up all the trash I can, even if that means I’m rolling heavy tires out of the forest. I like to leave a trail better than I found it. It feels so good to help the environment for you and me.

No matter what you believe politically, loving the environment is an intelligent thing to do.

We need it to be healthy, or we’re not going to be healthy.

A sick environment will make sick people.

Hiking is a great way to make you fall deeply in love with nature to the point where you want to treat it better than you had before.


And there you have it! Many of the benefits of hiking will improve your health, fitness, and well-being. Nature and hiking are one of the best things to get addicted to. And for the most part, it’s either completely free to do, or the costs are minimal compared to other hobbies. So I’m going to end this article by telling you to take a hike if you want to enjoy the above benefits.

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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!

Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

Founder, Hiking with Shawn

Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman

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