The average person in the United States spends 95% of their times indoors! That equates to a total of one hour and twenty minutes of outdoor time a day over the course of your lifetime.
The outdoors are wonderful and invigorating, being outside can be a grounding and balancing experience. We all should take more time to be outdoors as it has proven benefits to health and well-being.
I began hiking as a way to help my fur-baby, Lucy, run off steam and exercise. As anyone with pets knows, when a dog doesn't get their exercise they misbehave and have health issues, like obesity, depression, and anxiety.
I could easily tell a difference with Lucy when I wasn't able to get her out to "run off" some of her excess energy she had as a young pup. When she'd look at me with those "puppy dog" eyes, no joke, they would say.. "Take me outside, I need to run!"
That's when I realized, if taking a daily walk or hike had such an impact on my dog, wouldn't it do the same for me? There is study after study about the positive effects of daily walking practice for your mind, body, and soul.
Read on for 3 Reasons Why I Think All Nurses Should Take a Hike
There was a time that the idea of going for a hike before having to work a 12 hour night shift would make me exhausted. I didn't believe that I would have enough energy to get through my shift because I used it all up on my hike but actually the opposite happened.
On the days I had to work I would do small hikes 2-3 miles, so that I gave myself enough time to rest before my shift. On my days off, I loved committing to longer hikes like 4-6 miles.
Couple routine hiking with eating natural, healthy foods, I noticed that I wasn't as tired at work during that dreaded 3am-5am period and I was able to buzz around the unit feeling loose, activated, and limber! In order to have more energy you have to condition your body to keep up with your lifestyle by putting OUT energy! You get back what you put out, put in the miles and your energy level with amaze you!
There's something about being outside in nature that boosts my mood immediately. I love having the whole experience of being immersed in nature, the sounds, the smells, and the sights.
When I'm out in the woods I enjoy the freedom to let my mind wander. I think about life, my goals, and settle some scores with myself about things that have been bothering me. After a particularly rough shift at work, I find it helps to balance my mood and give me clarity over what is out of my control so I don't dwell on difficult situations and can move on.
After completing a hike, there is a sense of accomplishment. When we feel productive and accomplished there is a satisfaction that can't be beat.
Having a better overall mood and a positive attitude at work helps me to roll with the punches, have self-awareness, and be more approachable for my co-workers and patients. People will want to be around someone who's in a good mood, its that simple!
Learn more about How to Beat Depression with Exercise & Increase Your Happiness from a fellow nurse blogger at momsinscrubs.com!
Hiking can burn anywhere from 300-600 calories an hour depending on incline, weight of pack, and your own height/ weight. It is one of the most effective exercises for calorie burn when it comes to efficiency because of the constant changes with terrain, elevation, and speed.
You can increase calorie burn by choosing longer hikes, hikes with elevation gain, or adding weight to your backpack. As much as I love hiking just for the experience itself, I also love to see what my estimated calorie burn was. I've used multiple calorie burn calculators but I like the one on Calories Burned HQ for the extra criteria you can add into it to customize your potential calorie burn.
I lost 10 pounds from the time I started hiking and it has boosted my confidence... plus it didn't hurt that I was able to go down a size in scrubs!
How do you start hiking if you've never been before?
Hiking is a great, inexpensive activity! You don't need much to get started, just some shoes and motivation. Start with a good sturdy pair of sneakers or hiking shoes, I wear LLBean Women's Trail Model 4 boots because they are relatively inexpensive, have good ankle support, and traction.
If you have never worn hiking shoes before check out REI's boot buying guide on how to choose the perfect hiking shoe for you.
I love going on solo hikes with my dog, Lucy, but it's fun to invite a friend along for conversation, safety, and company! Added bonus, if your friend has a dog it can double as a play date for the dogs! I've coordinated hikes with work buddies, neighbors, and like-minded individuals and we always have a good experience on the trail. I use a hands free leash for dogs to make hiking more enjoyable and safer. You can find a great one on Amazon, click the image below to see the one I use!
Download the MapMyHike app to track your hike distance, speed, elevation, and time. I love to see where I've been and you can save the hikes along with photos you may have taken during the hikes to look back on for future reference!
Do you need help knowing where to start? Luckily, where I live there are an abundance of local trails just a few miles from my house and I have gotten lots of use of all of them. I use the AllTrails app to locate known trails in the area that have been mapped out and reviewed for help knowing where I want to step off.
You simply plug in the zip code or the city and state you are hiking from and a map generates that flags all the local trails accessible to you! I love it! I also love the AllTrails app for when I'm staying out of town and want to hike but don't know the area.
TAKE THE FIRST STEP!
On the days I've worked or am bogged down with housework and kids stuff, I find it hard to justify leaving for an hour or more to hike.
Consider having a hiking buddy to help you stay motivated and accountable. It's about priorities and balance. Many of us like to think we can do it all, but if we don't take care of ourselves in these little ways we won't be able to take care of others.
When I take time to do things that I love and that are great for my health, like hiking, I am a better nurse, mom, and wife, too. I hope you find an opportunity to give it a try!
What are some of your favorite things to do to unwind after work and stay in shape? Like my page on facebook or comment below!