Why hiking is good for mental health

hiking mental health

At a time when we all need a positive boost, there are many ways you can prioritise your mental health. Hiking is a great way of getting outdoors, exploring beautiful places and keeping active… all of which are beneficial for a healthy mind and body.

Walking is Britain’s most popular outdoor recreation by far, with more than 9 million adults saying they walk recreationally for at least 30 minutes every four weeks. I turned to hiking earlier this year as the nation tackled its first lockdown. Little did I know, getting into hiking would change my entire outlook on life.

What are the benefits of hiking?

  • Exercise – this one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people disregard walking as an effective form of exercise. Walking helps provide Vitamin D, burn calories and makes your heart healthier.
  • Fresh air – taking a deep breath of fresh air can be one of the best ways to unwind. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of life and out into nature is said to give you more energy and mental focus, lower blood pressure, and clear your lungs.
  • Unplug – In a world focused on technology, it’s important, for your mental health, to take a break from screens. Hiking is a great excuse to focus on the world around you, so put your phone away and enjoy the view – unless it’s to capture a snap along the way, of course.
  • Reset – and here’s the golden ticket… hiking works wonders to clear your head. As a solo hiker, I revel in the silence and beautiful views. I use it as an opportunity to get my thoughts in order. Whether it’s working out a current problem, thinking up a creative idea or planning your future goals… taking time to think is essential for good mental health.

I talk a lot about the importance of putting yourself and your health first, but I appreciate it can be easier said than done. Not everyone has the luxury of time. Over the summer, when I first got the hiking bug, I was furloughed and time was all I had. Now, I’m back working my full-time job and have also picked up an evening and weekend job to help with my savings plans for an exciting project in 2021. Despite working 65 hours a week, I make sure I squeeze in a local stroll as and when I can to clear my thoughts and take a breather.

I’m gutted that the second lockdown has put a stop to my autumn travel plans around the country, but it’s important to look ahead to the future and know that better days are coming.

Talking about mental health is so important, so let’s chat. How have you been affected by the second lockdown? Have you tried hiking as a way to boost your mood?