My family has never been a very outdoorsy family. Whenever the weekend rolled around, we’d much rather go trek at the mall than up a mountain, and so I never developed the instinct needed to be a good hiker — to trust my feet.
Whenever I went on a hike, I’d be hating on the heat, the mud, the bugs. I’d be complaining and whining, and wasn’t the most fun to be around. On steep inclines, I would contemplate on my life, curse the person who brought me, and wonder if I’ll ever have it in me to finish climbing up this dratted hill.
For some reason, I always made it. And with each new hike I did, my eyes opened up to so much more than just the mud, the bugs, and the sweat. I found myself appreciating the trees around me a lot more, the sounds of nature, and I savoured the one-on-one chats with my mates away from all the noisy distractions of the city. I found my stamina improving, and I’m slowly, but surely learning to trust my feet.
Hiking is perhaps one of the most underrated exercises around, but here are 10 great reasons why you need to start hiking, like right now:
1. Hiking strengthens your bones
Weight-bearing exercises are the best exercises for building stronger bones, and hiking is perhaps one of the lowest impact weight-bearing exercises you can find. Hiking strengthens muscles in the legs, which helps to improve your coordination, balance and strength, leading to less falls and related fractures. Strong bones also play a big role in preventing osteoporosis.
2. Hiking helps you get in touch with your creative side
Research shows that spending time outdoors help to increase your attention span and creative problem-solving skills by up to 50% . The authors of the study believe that the increased attention span is not only due to spending more time in nature, but being away from technology helps. Researchers from Stanford University also found that walking improves your creativity and gets the ideas flowing far better than sitting .
3. Hiking relieves stress
The next time you feel like you’re about to burst, it might be a good idea to step outdoors instead of resorting to Facebook. Researchers who evaluated 1,991 participants of a walking club found that group nature walks were linked with significantly lower depression and perceived stress. These walks also enhanced mental well-being .
4. Hiking makes the world seem friendlier
Every time I go hiking, I meet complete strangers who take the time to make small talk, say hi, or even just smile at me. For some reason, just being out in the woods make people far more inclined to open up and be friendlier. Defenses go down, and it’s just you sharing nature with a friend. I’ve seen people help those they have no connection with get up a steep incline, I’ve witnessed complete strangers sharing tips on which trails to hike next, I’ve talked to people who tell me to meet them there again next weekend. You definitely don’t get that in a shopping mall.
5. Hiking is a great workout
You might think that walking slowly up a hill wouldn’t help you burn much, but it’s actually a pretty effective workout burning up to 530 calories per hour (of course, there are many variables, from how steep the hill is to how much you’re carrying etc). It’s also low-impact which won’t hurt your joints and you can go as fast or as slow as you want to. Scenery changes as you go, and you can talk to anyone on the way. This beats the gym anytime.
6. Hiking lowers your blood pressure
Cardio activities such as hiking lowers blood pressure by 4-10 points . This in turn helps you steer clear of dangerous diseases like heart disease, strokes, and diabetes.
7. Hiking helps you lose weight
Hiking is one activity that dynamically works your entire body. Think about it, you’re carrying a backpack with your water, snacks, and a change of clothes and trekking up a hill / mountain. That’s you working your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, core muscles, and upper back. A full body workout. Do it regularly to say hello to a new you!
8. Hiking’s a cheap sport
All you need to go hiking is a pair of good shoes, some old sweat shirts, a small backpack, and a water bottle. Most hiking spots are free for public use so you don’t need to spend a pretty penny just to get your sweat going. Unless of course, you go for those fancy hiking boots that come with a thousand-Ringgit price tag (which we think is totally unnecessary unless you’re super hardcore).
9. Hiking is easy
Unlike sports like tennis or futsal, hiking has a pretty low learning curve. All you need to know is how to walk, and we’ve learned that when we were a one-year-old toddler. Hiking is perhaps one of the easiest exercises to stick with because you can adjust your speed and the hills you climb to your comfort level. Sure, you might be out of breath a lot in the beginning even on flat land, but as you hike more you’ll definitely find your stamina improving.
10. Hiking relieves back pain
Sitting in the same position day-in-day-out can really screw up our backs, which is why so many of us suffer from back pains. When that happens, we usually retreat onto our sofas and beds, or go for a massage, but perhaps these aren’t the best remedies for that recurring ache. Of all the health benefits walkers reported on, the disappearance of or enormous decrease in back pain was perhaps the most prominent. 
Don’t wait. It’s time to plan your first hike! If you’re worried that you may get lost, check these hiking tours offered by Adenue.