Hiking Does Wonders for Your Health and Well-Being

by Leslie Horton, Director, Yavapai County Community Health Services

In Yavapai County we are fortunate to have many beautiful, expansive outdoor settings to enjoy. Spending time outdoors is a great way to get exercise, soak in fresh air and vitamin D for your immune system, and relieve stress, especially in times when the world around us can be rather stressful and seemingly limited in activities.

Hiking in nature can be extremely beneficial for your physical and mental health, and provides a peaceful place to disconnect from screens and electronics and relax. Listening to birds, taking in the view, and breathing in fresh mountain air gives us a sense of well-being.

It is important to try to keep a balance in our lives at all times, especially when we are under heightened stress. Currently, with so many worrisome dynamics in our world, more people feel overwhelmed by it all. Due to physical distancing restrictions and closures, people who work out indoors are missing regular workouts at their favorite gyms, so we are encouraging people to consider new, creative ways of exercising, and in doing so helping to alleviate stress.

People are finding different ways to connect with family, friends, and even in their places of work — things like walking meetings can reduce stress and provide an opportunity to talk. No matter what your age, or your level of stress, getting outside more can do wonders for your health and well-being.

If you are not familiar with hiking trails in Yavapai County, you can check out your city’s parks and recreation department, as they will have trails and outdoor recreation maps along with other helpful resources. You can pick up a map or use a hiking app to find trails in your area. There are numerous established hiking groups that you can join, which can be a great way to learn the trails while hiking with a group (currently hiking groups are following guidelines for social distancing safety). Hiking with a friend, family member, or your dog are all good ways to get out and explore the beauty that surrounds us.

Although we hope to get back to some sense of new normalcy, for now and during this time of adjustments we may find some new favorite ways to get active and connect with ourselves and with nature. I encourage you to try something you have not tried for a while, or maybe ever— pack a picnic and go out hiking, fishing, biking, and kayaking, which are just a few great options. Do not forget your water, fully charged phone, and sunscreen.

Taking adequate time for self-care is always a sound investment and pays back dividends in your health and well-being. We live in a place with great weather, beautiful surroundings, and plenty of trails to enjoy, so get outside!