Originally published on TheFrisky.com
Early retirement and becoming a dog owner about five years ago introduced me to the joys and benefits of regular hiking.
For many years before this, I worked long hours in a high-pressure job that at times demanded my attention day and night. And while I loved my work, I knew I should take time out each day to relax and regroup. A brisk walk before or after work not only felt good physically but would also help me re-focus mentally. I didn’t walk then as much as I do now, but when I did, my mind became clear as I concentrated not on work but my surroundings. And when I returned to work, I often brought with me ideas and solutions to problems that had occurred to me subconsciously!
Now I have more time and a good reason to get out on hikes regularly – my dogs! On weekends, I always seize the opportunity to hike, especially long treks with my dogs and friends up mountains and through wooded areas. I’ve lost track of all the times we’ve hiked up Table Mountain! Table Mountain is a very popular hiking destination for tourists, as well as for the inhabitants of Cape Town because there are many trails and the scenery is gorgeous. While sometimes I prefer a solitary hike to commune with myself, it’s always fun to hike in the presence of others and know that they’re enjoying it as much as I am.
An Inexpensive Hobby
Hiking is an ideal activity for pleasure and to get fit or stay fit.
For one thing, it’s relatively inexpensive! The only gear needed is a good pair of hiking shoes or boots. That’s the one thing I do recommend – that you invest in top quality footwear. Ultimately, protecting your feet upfront will not only help you avoid unnecessary pain or injury, but it will improve your endurance as well.
Of course, depending on where you live you’ll have to drive or take a bus to the nearest hiking trail, but don’t let that deter you. The trip adds to the anticipation of the enjoyment you’ll have once you’re free of cars, traffic, sirens and can enjoy pristine nature.
Hiking for Pleasure and Fitness
I’m sure you’ve all seen or heard the staggering health statistics: there’s an obesity epidemic in cities around the world. An alarmingly high percentage of people spend most of their time in their homes, watching television or playing video games on their computer, and getting no exercise at all.
It’s time to get “unplugged,” as the saying goes. Rather than watch nature programs on television – take a hike into the natural world and see the captivating wildlife for yourself.
Walking and hiking are low-impact activities that practically anyone can do – with the assistance of canes or hiking poles if need be.
While hiking up steep hills provides more of a workout for the lower legs than walking on a flat trail, it all helps to get the blood flowing. Physical activity stimulates the production of endorphins, a chemical in our bodies that imparts a feeling of well-being.
Combine that with our feelings of appreciation at the site of majestic trees, beautiful tree-lined hills or mountains, colorful flowers, the regular call of the birds in the air, or the rustle of an animal in front of us, and our feeling of well-being is complete.
There’s a saying from the works of J.R R. Tolkien – “Not all who wander are lost.” And that my digital friends, is certainly true. Those who wander quite often find themselves, in unexpected ways!
About Carole Hambleton-Moser: Whether she is involved in a meeting as a Board member of the Donkey Sanctuary or helping to donate a wheelchair to a disabled dancer who is a part of the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Carole Hambleton-Moser uses all her might for the betterment of the world. When she isn’t pursuing her passions of philanthropy, Carole spends time on inner reflection, doing yoga or QiGong, or hiking with her dogs and friends.
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