Hiking: An International Passtime

Written by Beth Marlin Lichter
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Hiking is a terrific activity for the human body, which has evolved to stand upright and walk forward. It is not surprising, therefore, that people all over the world find hiking, both inspiring and beneficial. Physically, hiking is great for maintaining cardiovascular health, bone density and muscle tone, although the level of fitness increases, the more one gets out on the trail. Mental health is also enhanced. Being outside, embraced by the many charms and wonders of Mother Nature, one is quickly drawn away from the cares and anxiety of daily life. The mind is refreshed while the lungs lustily inhale clean air. Hiking is very conducive to a state likened to meditation, where the body gets into a rhythm of walking, as the environment is constantly stimulating the senses with ever-changing scenery. One becomes focused on breathing and moving forward thoughtfully, whether it be through verdant pastures, or craggy mountain passes.

If you are interested in going on a hike but don’t know how to get started, it is easy to get connected either to a local hiking group, or an international company. Go to American hiking.org or Sierraclub.org to learn more about opportunities to explore our world on foot. Many outdoor organizations such as these, also stress the importance of volunteerism, in order to maintain pristine wilderness, parklands, and even neighborhood trails through the woods.
Companies that specialize in small group adventure travel such as Mountain Sobek, at mtsobek.com, offer hikes through some of the most splendid scenery on the planet.

Don’t be afraid to start small, as in a stroll along an easy trail not too far away. Be smart about what you carry with you. Daypacks work fine and should contain ample water, food, raingear if rain is a possibility, sunscreen, and extra layers if temperature is likely to drop.

Once the hiking bug is acquired, a lifelong search for your perfect adventure begins and you never know exactly where it will lead you. One step at a time, the world becomes a more familiar place.

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