Hiking : the best sport for a healthy lifestyle
Fall has arrived and it’s time to escape the city and go hiking in the forest to enjoy the beautiful colors of the trees. But more than that, hiking should be a way to refocus on what’s important, in other words, you & nature. It should be a way to forget about your doubts and interrogations at least for a few hours.
When was the last time you stopped doing what you were doing and took the time to close your eyes, breath and enjoy the moment? You can do it wherever you want, getting to work, cooking for the kids or eating at home. But the most important thing is to stop and take the time.
With so many new technologies, today's world is constantly developing: cities are expanding and modernizing and we are moving further away from nature. Being connected is about feeling, touching, smelling, looking, admiring what nature is doing during the time you are rushing out. So it is time for you to go in your backyard, the park or the forest and touch those leaves that allow you to breath, smell this perfume of pines, realize those trees were here before you do and live at their pace.
A lot of activities give you the opportunity to meditate and enjoy the gift given by nature but we wanted to focus on the most easiest one: hiking.
Before starting, we wanted to share the most beautiful adventure we ever experienced: the GR20. This is a long distance trail that crosses Corsica, France, diagonally from north to south and it is considered to be the most difficult of all the GR routes and one of the most beautiful mountain trail in Europe.
It's 180km long with variation in height of about 10 000 metres and it can be walked in 15 days. Even though the GR20 doesn't require any climbing techniques, perfect fitness level and confidence in walking over a variety of rugged terrains is however necessary.
It took us 9 days to cross the island, it was hard but so worth it. 9 days away from everything, from the city and its noise, its cars, your cell phone. 9 days reconnecting with nature, its beauty and its uniqueness. Every day was different: different landscapes, different mountains, meeting different people and different animals, different feelings. This is the trail where mountains meet sea, wild animals meet hikers and when courage meets freedom.
When you hike hours you have the time to think, to look around and enjoy the moment. This is at this exact moment that you realize nature gave you all and it is time to reconnect.
Does hiking seem difficult for you? You’ve been walking since the age of 1, 2 or even 3 and are still wondering if you can do it? Sure YOU can!
Benefits of hiking
Doctors highly recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercises per week. Aerobic exercises are equivalent to a moderate-intensity activity where you are able to talk for a long time but not sing. The only rule is that you have to stay active more than 10 minutes at the time - so yes, you can have a lunch & hike at the office ! John Muir, the american writer, was onto something when he said: “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
There are a lot of benefits in hiking but let’s start with the most important one: HEALTH
- Lower your risk of heart disease by highly reducing your blood pressure
- Reduce your blood sugar levels and improve your pressure. While hiking, your body uses the glucose in your bloodstream as energy for your muscles.
- Lower risks of cholesterol, colon, breast and lung cancer. Hiking through the trails on a regular basis decreases cholesterol, remove blood sugars and improve glucose tolerance.
- Improve balance and build strong muscles. Hiking will physiologically make you work your whole body, especially the lower body — namely the quads, glutes and hamstrings. But carrying a backpack will challenge the strength and endurance of your upper body as well.
- Make you happier and sleep better. Research shows that using hiking as an additional therapy can help people with severe depression feel less hopeless, depressed and suicidal. It may even improve your sleeping time.
- Connection with nature and family. Hiking provides a welcome break from the feeling of always being ‘switched-on’. Wandering where there is no WiFi can really help to relieve the effects of the mental fatigue that technology inevitable brings. We are sending messages and emails, posts on Facebook and Instagram but we are not taking the time to talk. Talk to our friends, relatives or your beloved about what is inside you: your feelings. Hike with the person you care creates links, a specific connection where you are not afraid anymore to reveal what is inside. Like nature, you have no choice to be real and authentic. Research shows families are stronger when they take one step after the other, talk and fix one problem after the other. Hiking in nature is about connection.
We are now sure you want to start right away, so here is a challenge for you:
This month, plan a hike with your best friend/love/relative.
A few advice just for you
So are you ready to hear the crunch of the leaves under your feet and see the world from above? Luckily, it’s easier to start hiking than you may think.
- Look closer. Quality trails are everywhere. You don’t have to live in the Alps. Cities, suburbs and states have parks or natural areas to get started hiking. Montreal, New York or Tokyo have everything you need to start hiking! No more excuses.
- Train. Start out with few kilometers to gradually hike longer and harder trails. By practicing on smaller ones, you will build muscles, manage the weight of your backpack or think about all the gear you NEED when you have nothing around you for hours.
- Plan the worst. We are sure you are not planning to fall on a rock but it helps when you have that first aid kit : it never hurts to be prepared. So carry extra water, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray and at least a small first aid kit, even on shorter hikes.
- Overestimate the trail time. Professional trail runners usually hit the ‘unplanned’. A portion of ice of the trail makes you go couple feets on the side and add 20 min to your time. Nature is wild and unexpected, so plan an extra 15% in case, shorten the trail if you are finishing 3 min before sunset.
- Partners for life. It is important to let people know where you are going and enjoy the trail with your partner. Two brains are better than one!
Now you don’t have any excuses. Do it, you’ll see you will love it !