Get Fitter By Luke Douglas Nothing sums up better the essence of hiking than the quote by the legendary Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man who climbed Mount Everest, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” To a layman, hiking might seem like a long stroll through the woods and across the hills, but this invigorating physical activity is so much more than that. It takes a lot of will, inner strength, and persistence to establish a hiking routine, but its benefits, both physical and psychological, are tremendous. Besides that, almost anybody can start hiking as it’s suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels, and unlike many other fancy hobbies, it’s pretty affordable. While it’s obvious that hiking is healthy, its numerous advantages are still lost on many people. Hike your way to health 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. spends 70% of their waking hours sitting, a recent study claims. According to the same study, sedentary behavior is linked with heart disease and all-cause mortality. Another study has reported that sedentary behavior leads to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including colorectal, ovarian, and prostate. This evidence is enough for anyone to grab a pair of sneakers and hit the road. Many people aren’t exactly fond of working out and they see it as a punishment for those couple of pounds they piled on during the holiday season, but hiking is a completely different story. There are no reps and sweating, just a pleasant walk while you breathe some fresh air and enjoy beautiful vistas. This low impact activity still provides a much needed cardio workout that will reduce the risk of hypertension, cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. …and to your perfect body Health does come first, but there’s no need to neglect the fact that hiking is one of the best methods of achieving a slim, toned body. Some estimates say that you can burn almost 1,400 calories during a six-hour walk, which is impressive. Of course, you can lower your bar and start with a more realistic goal. Even a two or three-hour hikes are beneficial for maintaining your weight. It’s true that hiking isn’t strenuous as weightlifting or a gym session, but you can spice it up by walking up a steep hill in order to engage major muscle groups such as quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, abdominals, lower back, or glutes. Using hiking poles will help you engage your upper body part. Interestingly, once they take to hiking, people don’t even perceive it as a physical activity as it feels more like a pleasant relaxation. It lifts your spirits Hiking is an excellent way to boost your mood. It may sound corny, but modern people are disconnected from nature and that undoubtedly affects their psychological well-being, although they’re mostly unaware of that. Hiking helps you form the bond with nature again, and this fulfilling experience reflects on their mood.Another thing that improves your mood, is that crisp, fresh air that you breathe while hiking far away from polluted cities. Last but not least, hikers often go in groups, and this social aspect provides a great remedy for contemporary alienation. In such a calming, natural environment, people can easily bond as they’re not distracted by electronic devices and everyday stress, which makes it possible for them to talk, and actually, listen to each other. It makes you more creative Sitting all day in a cubicle and staring at your screen paired with the dreaded 9-to-5 kills creativity and turns you into a programmed robot. If you want to start thinking outside the box, hiking can be of help. Surprised? Well, according to a study conducted by a group of Stanford researchers, hiking stimulates your creativity by a whopping 60%. Some of the greatest minds of our time, including the late Steve Jobs who was known for its astonishing creativity, hiked. If you want to unleash all your creative powers, follow their example, and adopt a regular hiking routine. The best things in life are (almost) free Fitness club memberships or expensive equipment for tennis, golf, and many other sports is usually cited as one of the reasons (or excuses) why people fail to start practicing physical activity. With hiking, all their problems can be solved. This exercise doesn’t require much – a pair of comfortable hiking boots, a tracksuit, hiking poles, and a rucksack. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive, but bear in mind that you’ll walk across all kinds of terrains, which means that you’ll need boots that can offer excellent ankle support, so don’t underestimate the importance of durable high-quality gym wear. Since hiking is the activity that can take place all year-round, you should have clothes that can protect you from the elements. Achievement and the benefits of hiking It’s in the human nature to always strive to do better, take the road less traveled, and establish a sense of fulfillment. Yet, in our ruthless, competitive, and dog-eat-dog society, it’s hard to keep up with all demands and overcome all obstacles that come our way, and this leads to frustration and depression. Now, imagine that you’re standing on a summit and enjoy a panoramic view of the city stretching out before you. The feeling you get when you realize that all the efforts you’ve put into crossing some rough terrains and difficult paths have paid off and that you’ve managed to reach your goal is exhilarating. On a subconscious level, such achievements can do wonders for your self-confidence and encourage you to believe that you can do the same in your everyday life. A Norwegian proverb says that only the ones who wander find a new path. Hiking can be a great way to get a whole new perspective on your life and start enjoying it to the fullest.