February 14th, 2013
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 few days and backpack! While it is cold in most of the Western Hemisphere, there are plenty of places in the Southwestern US and south of the border perfect to get out. Take a backpacking trip in Grand Canyon, Superstition Mountains, Death Valley - there are too many to mention.
So, what is in it for you? The average backpacker burns over 4,000 caleries per day - of course you do need to eat, so don't expect to drop 20 pounds in a weekend! But it's not all about how it makes us look, but how it makes us feel. Backpacking helps reduce heart disease, strokes, reduces body fat and increases muscle mass, strength and energy. It is also 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, car camping (in tents, not the RV), 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 skills. Oh, and the wilderness means off the grid so leave the electronics at home and refine those map reading skills.
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!