The activity of hiking, whether as a group sport or simply for solitude and reflection, has become synonymous with fitness and wellness. Whether it’s on a mountain or a park trail, hiking is an activity that thousands of people love to do every day. Here, Rena Margules discusses why hiking is her favorite sport.
Part of what makes us choose the activities we love is the aesthetic value, Rena Margules begins. “There’s nothing quite so breathtaking as the sun rising over a mountain trail,” she says.
It’s true that where you live and what you surround yourself with can affect your happiness level. Rena Margules talks about a publication from 2015 entitled Untangling What Makes Cities Livable: Happiness in Five Cities. This paper shows that city people don’t necessarily get their happiness from things we’d expect, like big houses, fancy cars, and the best clothes. This paper goes on to suggest that the cumulative effects of living in an aesthetically pleasing city had the greatest effects on happiness, which means that beautiful surroundings can have a profound effect on you, Rena Margules says. How much more beautiful can you get than being surrounded by nature? When I get to choose between hiking and working out in the gym, there’s really no comparison, she adds.
“Another reason I love hiking so much is that it pumps up your blood,” Rena Margules says. “Hiking is one of the activities I do to release endorphins and make me happier,” she adds. It’s an activity she can share with someone she loves, she says, or do alone if she needs to get away. Rena Margules says when she’s with a friend, sometimes she likes to go slow and enjoy a quiet conversation, or it can be a fast heart-pumping activity if we want to exercise. If she’s by herself, she says she enjoys the internal dialogue “where I can just not think at all and give my brain a rest. Sometimes I’ll even sing as I walk, and that is most relaxing.”
“Hiking helps me appreciate the small things in life, like the sounds of birds or the rustle of squirrels in the trees,” Rena Margules says. The greenery all around, the view from the top of a mountain, and the feeling of the wind blowing through your hair — these are all things I can’t get from working out in a gym, she says. It’s a great way to unplug and de-stress from life, she adds.
There’s an old folk song that goes, “I’m happy when I’m hiking, pack upon my back,” Rena Margules says with a smile. “So, I know I’m not the only one.”