One thing is for sure – if you don’t take care of your body, mind and spirit, you will feel off balance and unsatisfied in life. The problem is that even if we know that, finding the time to care for each of those parts of ourselves can feel impossible at times. Most of us are more stressed and busy than ever, and we know we need to take care of ourselves, but how and when? It might be time to consider the health benefits of hiking.
Our bodies require exercise and if they don’t get enough, they will begin to shut down. But exercise isn’t always fun and when we are already worn out from the daily grind, exercising can be the farthest thing from our minds.
Our minds need some down time. Imagine if you left a car engine revving constantly 24-7. The car wouldn’t be able to handle it and all kinds of things would go wrong. The same is true for our minds. They need to reboot everyday. Meditation can give us the mental recharge we need, but seriously, who really has time for much of that in this day and age?
Our spirits need to be nurtured because when they are, we will be able to better handle the stress that comes our way, and we will be better able to get our priorities straight and live a fulfilling life. By spending time in nature, we come to understand what is really important and we see the beauty and interconnection in life and the world around us. Unfortunately, the only nature many of us see is during walks to and from the car.
So now what? How can we possibly add exercise, meditation and spending time in nature to our already overflowing schedules?
The solution I have found is hiking, and the reason I love it so much is because it accomplishes so much in one simple activity. It recharges the body by providing the exercise it needs. It is very meditative in nature, and therefore gives the mind some much needed time off from the “real world.” And it nurtures the spirit because it takes place in nature. I don’t know many other sports that can accomplish all of that.
I’m sure there is a park near you where you can hike. All you need are trails in nature. Whether they are winding dirt trails in the middle of the woods or paved, flat trails, it makes no difference. Set out to start with 30 minutes a week. Then bump it up to an hour. Then one hour on 2 separate days during the week, and so on. You’ll probably find that you start to crave that time. That’s your time. Whether you choose to listen to music on your iPod as you walk or simply take in the sights and sounds of nature, you will get to a point where you can tune the rest of the world out and simply own that time. You’ll come back feeling refreshed in body, mind and spirit! So, go take a hike!