By: David Lockeretz
If you are planning on making a New Year’s Resolution in 2013, there’s an excellent chance that the benefits of hiking can help you keep it. You don’t need to plan an epic mountaineering trip in the Rockies or a long pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail.
No matter where you live, odds are there are some good hiking trails, or at least some outdoor nature areas, near you.
According to a post on the PlaceFull blog, here are the top ten New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 – and how you might find your answers on the trails.
1) Lose weight.
This shouldn’t be too much of a shocker, and it should also be pretty clear how hiking can help with this goal. If you are fortunate enough to live in a climate that supports year-round hiking, get out and go for it, and if you are in an area where hiking really isn’t available until the summer, pick a mountain and set it as a goal.
2) Drink less alcohol.
If you know that you have to get up early for a big hike, odds are you probably won’t be tying one on the night before. That’s not to say you can’t celebrate your accomplishment with a cold one afterward, of course. At least in that case, you’ll have earned it.
3) Get out of debt.
This might seem like a little bit of a stretch – but consider this. It’s well known that good health leads to better productivity in business and on the job, just as poor health ends up costing you. Compared to gym or club memberships, the nominal fee that most state and national parks charge is usually insignificant. Many hiking trails are free. While longer, technical climbs might require equipment, many shorter trails can be done in sneakers, or in a sturdy pair of hiking boots – less expensive than a set of skis or golf clubs.
4) Spend more time with family.
What better way to do that than to get out into nature? With childhood obesity continuing to be a concern, hiking can be a fun way to get kids exercising. As a family outing, a nice day hike can be a lot less expensive than a theme park or sports event (see #3).
5) Help others.
Many parks are facing budget cuts at the federal, state and local levels, and as such, volunteers are often sought. Whether it’s leading guides or doing trail maintenance, your services are sure to be welcome at a local park.
6) Get organized.
How can hiking help you organize your home or office? Well, it probably won’t, but in order to fit hiking into your schedule, you have to be on top of things. Most hikes require preparation and research, skills that carry over into organization.
7) Quit smoking.
Just as hiking can inspire you to cut back on alcohol, it can also do the same with smoking. Consider also how many forest fires are started by carelessly disposed cigarettes.
8) Enjoy life.
Whether you are experiencing the scenic view from a mountain, a serene stroll through a forest or a walk along the beach, it’s hard not to enjoy life when you’re out in nature.
9) Find a mate.
If you’re tired of bars and blind dates, consider the trails as an alternative. After all, you know that you have at least one interest in common with whomever you might meet on a hike. Groups such as Meet Up often organize hikes, and you can also show off your generous spirit by volunteering for a park (see #5).
10) Learn something new.
Be it wilderness navigation, identifying animal tracks and poison oak, technical climbing or using a water purifier, hiking often requires special skills. The more you practice them, the more you will experience the benefits of hiking. You also might be inspired to take pictures of the landscapes you see which will teach you about photography. Heck, you might even decide to write a blog about all of your hikes.
So how do you find these trails? Often times, a quick Google search might yield results. A good national resource is www.localhikes.com. Even states that aren’t known for mountains, such as Ohio and Florida, respectively boast Cuyahoga Valley and Everglades National Parks.
So here’s to a happy, healthy and successful 2013 – full of good times and good hikes!
Photo: David Lockeretz
David Lockeretz is an avid hiker, photographer and writer based in Long Beach, CA. His blog, www.nobodyhikesinla.com, is one of Southern California’s premier resources for information about hiking trails. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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