National Take a Hike Day: It’s So Cheap and Easy and Yet So Good For You

young man hiking on a long suspended bridge
Jonathan Klok/Unsplash

One of the best things you can do for your overall health is to move your body.

Sounds simple, but too many of us lead sedentary lifestyles. Think of all the time you spend seated while commuting to your job, working at a desk and relaxing in front of the television in the evenings.

Sure, we all have days when just the thought of working out seems exhausting, but our bodies can really benefit from it.

From a money-saving aspect, being healthy can keep you from incurring costly medical-related expenses. And while a gym membership isn’t free and costs of boutique fitness classes add up, you do have several less pricy options to get your body moving.

One example: You can take a hike!

The Benefits of Hiking

On the most basic level, hiking requires you and a trail. If you’re just starting out, skip the costly gear. Just get some comfortable clothing, quality footwear and water, and you’re good to go.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week — or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity. Go hiking on a regular basis and your body will thank you.

According to Livestrong, hiking:

  • Lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke
  • Can help you control or prevent diabetes
  • Increases your energy levels, endurance and alertness
  • Increases bone density
  • May lower risk of certain cancers, like breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer and endometrial cancer
  • Improves mood
  • Reduces insomnia
  • Provides your daily dose of vitamin D

In addition, WebMD reports hiking:

  • Builds your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
  • Strengthens your core
  • Improves your balance
  • Helps you control your weight
The benefits of hiking
Kristy Gaunt / The Penny Hoarder

Where to Start

Now that you know why you ought to be hiking, the next step is to get out there and get moving!

The National Parks Service has a resource where you can find which national parks are near you. You can use the advanced search function to find locations that are great for hiking.

The American Hiking Society has a “hikes near you” resource that uses crowd-sourced information from Hiking Project. Courses are rated and color-coded by intensity, which helps ensure you don’t wind up on one that’s too difficult for you.

The society also has an array of tips for your next hike — from how to pack your backpack to how to deal with first aid situations.

And if you happen to live in an area where natural trails aren’t abundant, don’t think that automatically disqualifies you from hiking. Urban hiking is totally a thing.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her last hike was at the Washington Park Arboretum, a beautiful slice of nature in the Pacific Northwest.