Hiking merges two requirements of human existence, connecting with nature and exercise.
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…
The potentially prophetic John Muir was a stud. He was a naturalist and storyteller who mused on his nature adventures in the Sierra Nevada Mountains out here in Cali. Muir’s devotion to the preservation of the Yosemite Valley, to name just one, is to be celebrated. He passed away in 1914 and was digging on the virtues of walking in nature well before you snacked on trail mix and rocked your Camelbak.
We should pay our respects by getting out and hiking. I know all the excuses, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t need special equipment, boots or even the khaki shorts. I just came back from a hike. I wore sweats and carried a few bottles of water in a ripped school backpack.
You also don’t need to be experienced on trails or terrain. A hike is simply a walk in nature, and it’s a necessity.
What’s that you’re saying? Venturing into the wild is not a necessity? I vehemently disagree. Close your eyes, and allow the idea of smog, traffic, crowds and tall buildings to penetrate your outer layer. Now breathe in icy mountain-fed streams, crashing waves, windy canyons… You can choose your own jaw dropper. From 8shields.com:
We recognize that our senses, minds, and bodies have developed in rhythm with the natural world; continual primary contact with nature is beneficial and needed for optimal health and well-being. A number of studies demonstrate that obesity, depression, and other problems are linked with lack of time spent in the outdoors. This is called “nature deficit disorder”
You don’t have to rely simply on some theoretical and unquantifiable benefits. The most important pre-requisite for well-being is health. We should take a peek at how hiking can directly impact our fitness goals. You dig numbers, and I dig delivering them.
I’m roughly 200 pounds. Okay, fine, 194 (damn, this honesty thing is hard). Let’s imagine I’m 205 and throwing a backpack on to hike up into my beloved Santa Monica mountains. If I hike at a normal pace, I’m smashing 650 calories, give or take a few depending on my incline and appetite for keeping a brisk pace.
Smaller or bigger tyke? At 130 pounds, you’ll be knocking out 415 calories in an hour while lowering your stress levels and getting away from the madness of society. If you’re heavier, that calorie number will hike (see?) up.
I know, you have one last bullshit excuse. “But I live in New York City,” you cry. Hop on the 4 train, get your ass to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and hit up, of course, the John Muir trail.