Hiking: Positively One of the Best Aging Tricks

Hiking can be a great physical workout, enhancing cardiovascular and pulmonary health. But that’s only the beginning of the multiple and diverse benefits that a walk outdoors can provide.

Sunday mornings have become my weekly saving grace ever since I began hiking with the girls four years ago. We meet between 7:30 am and 8:00 am and hike for one to two hours depending upon the time of year and our moods. We may follow a strenuous, uphill path or take a jaunt from Santa Monica to Venice Beach and back. Wherever we go for the day, we are assured that by the end of our trek, we will feel better for a variety of reasons.

Why hiking is so resorative:

1) the exercise – of course, this is a no brainer!

2) the conversation and social connection (if you hike with others) – for us girls, it’s a great way to catch up on each other’s lives while we’re getting exercise. The best part? Sometimes we talk so much we forget we’re exercising. And I like to think we’re burning even more calories by the flapping of the gums.

But seriously, talking while hiking helps regulate the breathing, forcing you to breathe deeper. And socializing while doing anything has been proven to be THE #1 indicator of healthy aging.

3) the connection with nature – we tend to hike in lots of natural places—along the beach and among the trees and trails of Griffith Park or the Angeles Forest of Los Angeles. Listening to the waves and the birds or taking in the scents of the surrounding flora and fauna helps clear the lungs and relaxes the body.

Humans need interaction with nature to feel whole. Sometimes it’s beneficial to go out on your own to truly focus on nature and reunite with the environment. While I typically hike with my friends, many times growing up I hiked only with my dog, and I always came home energized and grounded.

4) our dog (and positive people) fix – while my one friend and I love dogs, neither of us have our own. Sunday mornings are a great way to connect with our four-legged friends. Watching dogs of all sizes and types come to life with the scents and sounds of nature makes my heart genuinely happy. And sometimes I even score a wet kiss. Not unlike humans, animals seem to feel more complete and content when interacting with nature. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other hikers we pass on our Sunday walks, some of the friendliest, most positive people you’re apt to meet, particularly the early risers.

So why am I such an advocate for hiking? In short, because it feeds the body, mind and soul. Coupled with either peaceful solitaire or social connection, hiking meets all the criteria for healthy aging. Give it a try. And enjoy!

Great hiking trails:

California Hiking Trails – we’ve got lots of ‘em!

Northeast Hiking Trails

The 10 Best Hiking Spots in the United States

The World’s Best Hikes

 

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2 Responses to “Hiking: Positively One of the Best Aging Tricks”
  1. I’ve Googled around but no luck yet. The ones I’ve come across so far all have to do with MP3s, software and what not. If you have any in mind, please provide links to the sources. Many thanks in advance!.

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