5 Sassy Benefits To Hikers

Does hiking offer some sassy benefits? Yes. It does. And how do we know?

Because several years ago, I arrived in my doctor’s office with a serious sass deficiency, difficult to treat, and complicated by my self-diagnosis – via the Internet. I announced that I could not stop crying but that I didn’t want any intervention unless it was non-traditional, free of free-radicals, and not approved by the FDA. The response the doctor gave was, “well, I’m not sure why you are here then so, walk”. Thankfully she stopped me as I stood to leave and added, “No, I mean walk 20 minutes every single day, it should reduce the crying.”

And she was right, the crying diminished in exchange for the griping and complaining  about walking. That is until I happened upon hiking. I mean the word hiking. It had a much nicer ring to it and I liked the boots better than tennis shoes. For anyone who questions this reasoning, the definition of hiking is to go on an extended walk for pleasure. Extended, I figured, was in the eye of the beholder.

What began as a lengthier walk, morphed into discovering the trail and a realization that – according to the experts – some sassy benefits were mine for the taking, benefits like:

1) A SHARPER MIND – Now this one gives me a giggle because the prevailing wisdom is that cardio improves concentration, however, I am known far and wide for hiking into the backcountry and right off the trail. I like to think it is time spent in this very “zone” (zoned out) state that creates the sharper mind.

2) A HEALTHIER BODY – Yes, your blood pressure goes down as does the desire to strangle the person who would NOT turn right on red when you were in a hurry to get absolutely nowhere. The rest of the health-package has been widely touted as encouraging increased respiration, weight loss, muscle gain, blood circulation, and stamina. We know that hiking is good for our bodies and that translates into good for our emotional state.

3) A SOLID SPIRIT – The misconception here is that “spirit” is purely internal or attached to personal self-realization. To be outdoors and present to nature-made as opposed to man-made has an ability to reduce us individually and expand us collectively. We go from mindless singular consumers to a group of trekkers responsible enough to leave no trace.

4) A SENSE OF COMMUNITY – This is powerful so I hope you seize it if it fits. Find some kindred spirits, a pal or two, that want to join you. Walking/hiking with a friend can save you money, rock your entire experience, and friendships blossom on the trail in a manner that no happy hour can equal. Bonding – over 2 for 1 margaritas – pales next to a sunset on the trail and yes, you can bring your own spirits.

5) INCREASED SELF-CONFIDENCE – Taking on a dirt trail and hiking into the wild, for even a mile or two, reaffirms that we used to be self-sufficient. Our forefathers drank water from rushing creeks and picked wild mustard for dinner. The child in us is familiar with the joys of roughing it and knows that the stomach ache from eating crab apples is not lethal. The adult in us is aware that this stomach ache is actually far less harmful than blood pressure spikes from road rage in work traffic.

So let’s park the car, load the backpack with apples, and head out of cell range. This we can do, it is in our DNA. It’s called sass.

*Please know that I do not mean to make light of depression or suggest that cardio is a singular fix. I incorporated a number of tools on the road back to emotional health and hiking was key for me. It still is. If you are struggling with depression, please seek medical help.



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