Fresh air, warm sun, surrounded by nature, what could be better? Hiking is a great hobby for any nature lover and can be great exercise for anyone. I, being a hiking lover myself, love to take my days off to go exploring in the woods and find new trails to go check out in the area. It is a great activity to get you out of the house and doing something outside that your health can really benefit from.
Now I know what you’re going to say, isn’t hiking the same thing as walking, but just through the woods instead of the sidewalk? Truth is, even if it’s just a nice stroll through the woods, hiking can affect you differently than just walking on the side walk. According to the article Why Hiking Is the Perfect Mind-Body Workout by Markham Heid, walking and hiking are significantly different, research has shown that when you hike your joints, heart and muscles perform in distinct ways that are much different that just walking on the side walk. Daniel Ferris, a professor of engineering and biomechanics at the University of Florida explains the difference in this article saying, “When you walk on a level surface, your body does a really good job of what’s known as passive dynamics … Your walking stride is like the swing of a pendulum. Thanks to gravitational and kinetic energy, if I start that pendulum swinging, it’s going to keep moving back and forth for a long time without any additional energy input. Like a pendulum, walking on flat terrain allows you to keep moving with little effort. But when you walk on uneven terrain that knocks out a lot of that energy transfer. Your heart rate and metabolic rate go up, and you burn more calories.”
Hiking is great for your health, mentally and physically. Like any type of exercise activity, hiking is making you active, and walking on uneven terrain increases the amount of energy your body uses by 28%, according to Ferris. When you hike on uneven ground you are using a lot of muscles you do not usually use on flat ground, and therefore you are strengthening the muscles in your hips and ankles that are not normally used. Not only does your muscles benefit from hiking, but it will also help improve your balance and stability.
Hiking can help refresh you mentally as well. Hiking can help clear and sooth your mind. When we exercise our body releases endorphins, which can help increase positive moods and make us feel happy. Hiking can be very therapeutic as well, and can benefit those immensely who struggle with anxiety and depression. Why Hiking Is the Perfect Mind-Body Workout shares research on this, “A 2015 study from Stanford University found that time spent in natural environments (as opposed to busy city settings) calmed activity in a part of the brain that research has linked to mental illness. Hanging out with Mother Nature also seems to reduce your mind’s propensity to “ruminate” – a word psychologists use for negative, self-focused patterns of thought that are linked with anxiety and depression.” Nature can have a huge affect on our minds, much more than we realize, which makes it important that we get out of the house and indulge ourselves it. Another article called How Hiking Can Kill Anxiety, Depression, and Build Resilience by Paul Banasiak says, “Nature has a way of forcing you to center yourself. Studies show that walking itself gives us an immediate decrease in tension, anxiety, and blood pressure. It brings us to a state of Zen, when the mind does not dwell on any one thing. We are forced to watch our step, to breathe in the fresh air, to look within and be with our own thoughts.”
Hiking is a great hobby that everyone can benefit from. The great thing about hiking is it can be an enjoyable activity that fits the needs for any individual. If you want something easy and relaxing then just go for a nice stroll on easy paths through the woods, or if you want something more challenging then hike something more difficult with more terrain, such as a mountain. No matter what you choose, it is a healthy, fun activity that anyone can enjoy.
If you are interested in hiking or want new places to check out, I have included some trails I’ve visited in and around the area. And if you adventure those places and want more I highly suggest downloading the AllTrails app, it will give you all the trails to hike around your area. Go out, enjoy nature and refresh your mind and body!
Hiking Hot Spots:
Callahan State Park
Callahan is in Framingham not too far from campus, found at 1048 Edmands Rd. It has a nice field, where many people bring their dogs, and many trails in the woods to enjoy!
Hopkinton State Park
(Photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhodefrog/5350378560)
Hopkinton is only a few towns over from Framingham, and the state park is found on 164 Cedar St. It has some trails to hike, picnic areas to eat lunch and if you go in the summer, they also have beaches for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding!
Ashland State Park
Ashland is right next to Framingham and you can find the state park on 156 W Union St. They have beautiful trails that go all around the Ashland reservoir and you can even make a pit stop at a abandoned boy scout campsite right off the trail!
John R. Macomber Estate Framingham Conservation Land
(Photo by Marissa Rousseau)
These trail are found in Framingham right around the corner from campus! The parking lot can be found right off of Gates St. across the street from the Framingham Country Club. This land has nice relaxing trails in the woods for everyone to enjoy!
How Hiking Can Kill Anxiety, Depression, and Build Resilience – Muay Thai Athlete. (2015). Muay Thai Athlete. Retrieved 1 May 2018, from http://www.muaythaiathlete.com/how-hiking-can-kill-anxiety-depression-an…
Why Hiking Is the Perfect Mind-Body Workout. (2018). Time. Retrieved 1 May 2018, from http://time.com/4820394/hiking-walking-mind-body-workout/