It's Valentine's Day and while we are showering our loved ones (and ourselves) with chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, take a different route and do something healthy for your body and mind and get outside for a day, or more! While it is cold in most of the Western Hemisphere, there are plenty of places in Arizona that offers perfect weather for you to get out. Take a hiking or backpacking trip in Grand Canyon, Superstition Mountains, Phoenix area, Tucson, or Sedona.
So, what is in it for you? Just getting outside requires movement and movement is good for you. You are off the couch and away from the television, computers and all the stuff the clogs our brains. The natural world stimulates our bodies and brains - you gain clarity and the sudden desire to NOT reach for your phone and see who may be texting you. Oh, and then there is the workout. Hiking burns calories - but the number depends on so many factors like difficulty, time and your own body weight - but who cares overall.
If the number of calories burned is what gets you out, then you're doing it for the wrong reasons! Hiking and backpacking helps reduce heart disease, strokes, reduces body fat and increases muscle mass, strength and energy. Backapcking is a weight bearing exercise which helps prevent osteoporosis - helps your bones! But you can get this by exercising anywhere, right? Tis true, but the big benefit comes from getting outside and off the grid for a while. In 2011, American Scientist published further evidence that spending time in the natural world benefits human health. If you are interested, read the article, but if you have spend any amount of time in the wilderness whether a day of hiking, camping or backpacking for a few days, you have felt the benefits - inner calm and peace, relaxed nature and a clearer head. And if you take a hike that really challenges you physically, you gain a great sense of accomplishment. Hiking as a couple? Work on some cooperation and communication skills. It's amazing how much you can communicate when there is little to distract you. Being chased by a bear? You will soon find out if your loved one is willing to work with you to survive or is just hoping to run faster than you.
Don't have a siginificant other to share an outdoor adventure with? So what! Valentine's Day isn't just about loving others, but loving yourself. Or, taking that special pet in your life on a nice long outing.
So do yourself and your loved ones a favor and go take a hike!