Why You Should Hike

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Play Hard, Sleep Like a Log

There are countless reasons to get out and explore the outdoors. Recreating outside offers our bodies and minds a plethora of benefits that go beyond sun-kissed skin.

Outdoor activities allow us to get moving and be active. Whether it’s jogging, cycling, or participating in the latest pickleball craze, outdoor recreation helps improve our cardiovascular fitness, build strength, and peak overall physical health. Bonus points if playing your favorite sport helps you forget about the exercise part of things. Back to that sun-kissed skin benefit, spending time outside exposes us to sunlight, which gives us that sunny glow, but it is also a natural source of Vitamin D. This glorious little vitamin is essential to our body’s ability to thrive. It helps us absorb calcium, strengthens our bones, and helps our immune system fight off pesky viruses and illnesses. It’s an absolute rockstar in helping us feel like rockstars. And being in nature has a remarkable ability to spark creativity and inspire new ideas. Hello Van Gogh! Being surrounded by natural beauty can boost our imagination, problem-solving skills, and help us think more clearly. Just imagine what brilliant ideas you might think up when you’re out on a trail or volleying on the court.

If you’ve ever come home from a long day of skiing or an intense bike ride, you’ve likely muttered the words, “I’m beat.” It doesn’t take a genius to realize that if you’re outside playing all day, working up a sweat, and giving your mind some mental stimulation, you will get a really solid night’s sleep. Exposure to natural light and outdoor activity can help regulate sleep patterns and aid in the quality of your sleep, too. This means better overall health and well-being. Sweet dreams!

Exercise Your Mind

The benefits of getting outdoors extend beyond physical health and exercise; it also nurtures our mental well-being. Whether you’re walking, running, or hiking—taking in the tranquil beauty of your surroundings, combined with the soothing sounds of rustling leaves, babbling streams, and the rhythm of your breath, has a calming effect on the mind and spirit. The serenity of nature allows us to escape the stresses of everyday life, promoting relaxation, mindfulness, and inner peace. You can’t feel nearly as upset or sad or discontented when you are outside. That’s because fresh air, sun, and a natural environment reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, which in turn improves our mood. To add a scientific explanation, outdoor sunlight helps your body produce serotonin (an important neurotransmitter in the brain) and keep those levels up. This helps raise your energy and keeps your mood calm, positive, and focused. Having a bad day, take a hike!

Ahhh. Taking a hike. What a perfect way to get outdoors and soak in the benefits of outdoor recreation AND immerse yourself in one of Park City’s favorite seasons! As the vibrant colors of summer transition into the golden hues of fall, Mother Nature unveils breathtaking beauty, inviting us to go outside and embark on an adventure like no other. Getting outdoors and taking a hike offers a unique experience of seeing meadows and mountains that you may not usually get a chance to see. Plus, it’s just downright fun.

Falling for Fall Hikes in Park City

Fall in Park City is a symphony of colors, transforming the mountains into a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, yellows, and browns. As you wander winding trails, your eyes will be treated to vistas bursting with color and inspiring beauty. The crisp air, combined with the smell of dry leaves and vibrant foliage, creates an atmosphere within and without that is calming to the senses and is nothing short of magical.

As summer turns to fall, bid farewell to the heat of summer and welcome the gentle cool temperatures of autumn. The temperate weather of fall and the crisp morning and evening air invigorate the body and rejuvenate the mind, making every step of your hike a delightful outdoor adventure.

Recreating outdoors benefits the mind and body.
Solo hikes offer the chance to unplug and be at one in nature. (Image courtesy of Leki)

Don’t Worry, Be Healthy

Hiking offers serenity and solitude. Venture out on a less-traveled trail and immerse yourself in outdoor splendor. Fall provides a quieter hiking experience, with the rush of summer tourists now gone. A solo hike, combined with the peaceful ambiance of the forest, creates the perfect environment for contemplation, introspection, and reconnecting with your inner self.

Hiking outdoors allows us to connect with the natural world around us. Whether exploring forests or hiking through golden meadows, being in nature promotes a greater appreciation for the environment and even fosters a sense of environmental stewardship. If you’re lucky and patient, you may glimpse deer, moose, foxes, squirrels, or other wildlife scurrying around and foraging for food as you hike through their forest neighborhoods.

Hiking is an excellent way to keep your mind and body fit and there’s no better backdrop for outdoor exercise. Navigating through trails and making your way on uneven terrain challenges your balance and coordination and keeps your mind sharp and focused on the path ahead. It simultaneously engages several muscle groups in the legs, back, core, and arms. Hiking also gets your heart pumping and is a great cardio workout, strengthening your heart and endurance. And, breathing in the phytoncides released by trees and spending time in oxygen-rich environments can boost your immune system. That’s because phytoncides, which are antimicrobial organic compounds produced by trees, have antibacterial and antifungal qualities. These properties not only help plants fight disease, but when we breathe in phytoncides, our bodies respond by increasing white blood cells that fight virus-infected cells in our body.

With all the inward and outward benefits of recreating outdoors, why not opt outside? Take advantage of the great abundance nature has to offer, and enjoy all its amazing advantages. See you on the trails.

By Laura Kent, Editor, jans.com

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