Looking for a new hobby and remove those quarantine cobwebs?
It’s a new year, and it’s time for a new hobby. Many of us have been staying home and are ready to shake off the feeling of pandemic fatigue. Wouldn’t it be great to get out of the house and some exercise?! While there are many outdoor activities to choose from, such as biking, skiing, rock climbing – one of my favorites is hiking.
Hiking is great for mind and body
Without a doubt, being out on a trail in the middle of nowhere, getting away from it all, is excellent for mind and body. Hiking is a great way to get some exercise, the warm sunshine on your face, a cool breeze, and the emotional relief that comes from movement. It doesn’t require great skills and you don’t need special training for a day out.
You don’t need a lot of training and it’s only as hard as you make it. Getting out on the trail is so great because you can start at any time and you can control how hard you work. You can choose how fast or slow you want to go or how easy or hard you want the hike to be. The speed of your pace doesn’t matter; it is a great total body workout.
However, I will offer some advice to make your journey a bit better…
Carry some essentials
You don’t need special training. However, you do need to carry a few essentials. I usually have a small medical kit, sunscreen (in Colorado, you can get a sunburn nearly any time of year), bear spray, bear horn (you never know who or what you might run into). Above all, you need to stay hydrated; your body relies on hydration to stay alive. That is to say, every cell, organ, and tissue needs hydration to function correctly. A bottle of water is important as is a cellphone. You never know when an emergency will come up, and a cellphone can save your life. In short, accidents happen, and you want to be able to get help when needed.
Backpacks are a necessity. They make special hiking backpacks, small for a day hike or larger if you hike for a few days. Regardless, you will need to carry your supplies in any case.
I do suggest dressing accordingly. For example, it’s better to dress in layers if you need the warmth and take some layers off if you get warm.
Lastly, wearing the proper footwear is essential. You can wear regular athletic shoes on short hikes in the right kind of weather. However, if the weather is cold or wet, you want to have boots that are designed to keep your feet dry and warm. Furthermore, you want boots designed for off-road if you run into rugged terrain. You don’t want to slip and fall on the trail.
Benefits of hiking from personal experience
Living in Colorado, we have some favorite places to hike. Last week we took a 3-mile hike after work at the Garden of the Gods. Thanks to 21 miles of trails and 31 varied trails, we can decide between a quick stroll or spending the day. Since it was later in the day, we chose a trail that wouldn’t take more than an hour.
I enjoy hiking at the Garden of the Gods because each hike offers unique physical and mental benefits. The trail we were on, offered some varied terrain and great views of the towering redstone formations. We also decided on a strolling pace to appreciate the fantastic views on this particular hike.
On this trail we were not alone. We did run into other hikers, people bird watching, bikers, and people on horseback – all enjoying the panoramic views of Pikes Peak. Outdoorsy people are friendly however, everyone gave each other a wide girth – we are still in a pandemic.
Black Forest Regional Park
Hiking doesn’t have to be a seasonal activity. We tried this hike (Pictures below) in Black Forest Regional Park last winter and hiked a trail which at the highest point was 2,145 feet. Getting to the top of this trail was a real test of cardiovascular and muscular strength. Once we reached to top our views were our reward. Another hiking area we enjoy is Black Forest, Regional Park. The park offers hiking trails, biking trails, and running trails. I believe that the park is 3+ acres, has four major access points into the park and three trailheads. As a matter of fact, you can find detailed information about the park and trails online very easily.
Always look at a map before going on any hiking trails. I suggest looking online and plotting your course to ensure you are safe and know where you are going. It is better to know where you are going, how far you are going, and how to get back out.
Hiking doesn’t have to be a seasonal activity. We tried this hike in Black Forest Regional Park last winter and hiked a trail which at the highest point was 2,145 feet. Getting to the top of this trail was a real test of cardiovascular and muscular strength. Once we reached to top our views were our reward.
Full body workout
It was challenging, but the beautiful views and the feeling of accomplishment made it worth it. No matter the trail, hiking is a fantastic full-body workout:
- Builds stronger muscle and bones
- Improves balance
- Strengthens heart health
- Improves respiration
Sometimes the noise of modern life can be a bit much. Time in the outdoors is a surefire way to clear your mind and remove any quarantine cobwebs.
Out on another trail, we climbed up the side of hillsides; we were rewarded with views of rock formations that you can’t see up close if you drive around the park. The white bluffs of feldspar-rick sandstone are 60 million years old. While we experienced the unspoiled environment with amazing history, we were just in awe, and you feel part of it.
Boost your mood, destress, and improve your mental health:
- Reduces stress
- Calms anxiety
- Lower risk of depression
- Improves sensory perception
Hike with a friend, family, or a group can allow time to pull closer together. It can be easy to talk and share our lives where you share a challenge or enjoy pristine views; it is an excellent way to strengthen relationships you have with your companions. Our daughter went hiking with us to on another day, and she and I took time to sit and share the views in front of us.
Strengthen relational health bring a friend or family member:
- Improve strength and health of relationships
- Solve problems together
- Enjoy the little things
- Spend quality time
Hiking has been an absolute pleasurable hobby we have taken on this year. We plan afternoon hikes after work to destress and connect. Another great thing is you can plan entire vacations on day hikes or camp at the end of the day. Whatever hiking adventure you choose, I suggest never hike alone. Things happen, and it is wise to have a companion with you, even just to enjoy the views together.