10 Reasons to Take a Hike Today

10 reasons why hitting the trails is better than hopping on the treadmill.

When it comes to working out, the gym is your one-stop shop for everything you need to accomplish your goals. Weights, bikes, group exercise classes, a swimming pool—you name it, the gym probably has it.

But sometimes, there’s nothing better than taking advantage of the great outdoors for a change of scenery (literally). Today is National Take a Hike Day (November 17), and we’re giving you 10 reasons why you should choose to take a hike—not the treadmill—for your workout today.

  1. Change of scenery

Wherever you choose to hike—in the mountains, in the desert, in the forest—we can bet the views and vistas cannot be beat by four gym walls. Take advantage of all the beauty around you and find a spot that allows you panoramic views and beautiful scenery. Plus, the bonus of hiking is that the scenery is constantly changing as you move, so you’ll never get bored!

  1. Fresh air

Nothing beats the fresh air on your face and in your lungs while going for a brisk hike in the woods, near the ocean or a lake, or on top of a mountain. Break out of the stale office air and smoggy city air you most likely breathe in and out all day, in favor of some clear, fresh air. Plus, hiking is a great way to lower stress and anxiety.

  1. Vitamin D

Did you know that vitamin D is vital to bone growth and health? And did you know that the best way to get your body the proper amount is direct sunlight-to-skin contact? Taking your workout outside is a great way to get all the sunlight and vitamin D your body needs—but be sure to protect yourself from sunburn by wearing proper sunscreen, if you plan on being out in the sun for a great length of time.

  1. Contact with other friendly hikers

When you’re working out at the gym, chances are you don’t say hello to everyone you pass in the weights section or while on the treadmill. In fact, most of us wear headphones at the gym, so that makes connection close to impossible. Out on the trails, you’ll probably pass other hikers, who will most likely give a friendly greeting in passing. This is a chance to have real human interaction—enjoy it!

  1. Enjoy the weather

Assuming you’re not hiking in the pouring rain or a hailstorm, hiking allows you the opportunity to take advantage of great weather. Instead of being cooped up at the gym or in your home, get outside and enjoy the weather when you can.

  1. You can bring Fido

Unless you have a service dog, chances are your furry best friend isn’t allowed inside the gym. But out on the trails, Fido can tag along for a hike! In fact, this is one of the reasons having a dog can make you healthier. Fido needs a walk, and you get some exercise.

  1. No need for headphones

Other than the opportunity to connect with friendly hikers, being outdoors means you can take out the earbuds and listen to the sounds of nature. Sure, you can listen to music if you prefer, but at least you have the option of grooving to birdsong.

  1. No screen time

Most gyms have TVs on the walls, and even on cardio machines. And then there’s the screen on your phone. Ditch the screen, give your eyes a rest and allow nature’s beauty to entertain you.

  1. Tons of personal space

Ever feel crowded by the people exercising around you at the gym? When you’re out hiking in nature, chances are you won’t ever feel crowded—you may only pass a handful of people while you’re hiking!

  1. Animals

Want a science lesson and hike all in one? Keep your eyes peeled for all types of birds and other animals that are native to where you are hiking. (That is, if you’re interested in finding more fauna than gym rats.)

Have we convinced you to get out there and take a hike? We hope so! Happy trails!

Looking for a gorgeous place to hike? Visit one of these 24 national parks. Or, take a walk in the woods for enhanced immune function.

Photo credit: jacoblund/Thinkstock