Take a hike, it’s good for your health

Apr 23, 2024, 12:00 PM

Hikers explore a trail, hiking is good for health, be it mental or physical...

Hikers explore a trail in Alta Ski Area. (Rocko Menzyk/Alta Ski Area)

(Rocko Menzyk/Alta Ski Area)

Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — If you’re not a skier or snowmobiler, the winter months can make you feel sluggish with its shorter days and less daylight. But in some cases, the time between late November to early April can make you downright SAD.

If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of depression, then you are no doubt reveling in spring’s sunny days and warm temperatures and the best place to soak in all that vitamin D is out in nature.

Nature helps our mental state

When we feel trapped in our “urban jungles” feelings of sensory overload can actually bring on tension and mental fatigue.

Related: The beauty of seeing the Mighty 5 through someone else’s eyes

According to studies in the National Library of Medicine, a simple walk in nature can improve thinking, reasoning and many other mental abilities. 

If you’re like me, sometimes just a walk in the neighborhood will cure a writing block or help find a solution to a relationship challenge.

Improve your physical health

Hiking, biking or engaging in any other physical activity is not only good for your soul but also great for your physical wellness, including losing weight. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic time spent outdoors can also reduce cortisol levels, muscle tension and blood pressure which ultimately lowers our risk of heart disease. 

We’re blessed to have access to the outdoors along the Wasatch Front with easy access to our canyons but the truth is that the health benefits can be achieved even closer to home.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined that people who live near parks and green spaces have less mental distress and longer life spans. 

Positive health effects are even more enhanced when the green space includes water.

Related: Stay healthy when you exercise or play outdoors in the Utah heat

You may also find that you exercise longer and more intensely outdoors than while walking or running on a treadmill or riding a bike at the gym staring at the clock the entire time. 

These benefits have been found in all age groups including children.

Better sleep

Back to those shorter days and less sunlight statistics. 

Daily exposure to natural light helps regulate sleep/wake cycles. So, even a short walk every day can improve your ability to sleep at night besides the fact it may make you more physically tired.

It’s important to start slowly to avoid injury and remember to stretch. A good warmup will ensure that you can stick with the exercise no matter the level of intensity.

So start today with a simple lunch outside or step outdoors from the office to take a private phone conversation. 

SALT LAKE CITY -- The excessive heat is posing a danger to more than just people. As Utahns flock to lakes and mountains to escape the heat - some of them are bringing their pets. Pets are also put at risk when temperatures are high. Heat stroke, dehydration, paw burns and even sunburns can affect the four-legged friends. There are several things you can do to keep your pet safe in the sun, as well as signs to watch out for.  The Human Society advises we make sure our pets have lots of fresh water and sometimes even ice water. They said that dog-safe sunscreen is best for light-colored dogs, as they are more susceptible to burns and skin cancer. It's also important to provide them with shade that doesn't obstruct airflow and to limit the amount of exercise and sun they get. Short-nosed dogs are more at-risk for breathing issues when it's hot. They can't pant as efficiently, making it difficult to cool themselves down. Experts advise to always check the temperature of sand, pavement or grass. If it is too hot for a human bare foot, it is too hot for paws.

FILE: SLC Mayor Erin Mendenhall walks her dog in a city park. (Spenser Heaps/ Deseret News)

One more note.

If you’re a dog owner and can’t find a significant other to join you in your new goal of getting outdoors, grab a leash and simply ask “wanna go for a walk?”

I guarantee that you will always have an anxious and willing partner! 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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Take a hike, it’s good for your health