Why do I push hiking?
For one, it’s accessible. North Carolina is blessed with great hiking trails. No matter where you live, from the coast to the mountains, there are great trails a short drive away. (We even have a trail, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, linking the coast and the mountains.)
Hiking is social. Of all the ways you can get your heart rate up, hiking is perhaps the most amenable to doing so with friends. The movement, the fresh air, the surroundings regardless of where they are, all contribute to a convivial atmosphere.
It’s soothing. For a lot of us, being in the woods is a sedative. That’s not just me talking, there’s science to back that up (see below).
It doesn’t feel like a workout. Sure, there may be times at the end of a long day where you realize your body is working, but typically that realization doesn’t occur until later on — when you try to get out of the car, for instance.
All of which is why last September GetGoingNC, with support from Great Outdoor Provision Co., launched the GetHiking! program. GetHiking! focuses on two audiences: Folks who have long been interested in hiking but, for whatever reason, have yet to take their first step into the woods. And more experienced hikers who would hike more if they knew more places to hike.
For the former, our hikes are lead from the rear, meaning you’ll never hike alone. A guide will always be at the back of the pack. For the latter, we try and hit new trails every week, ensuring that you expand your universe of hiking options.
The program launched in the Triangle in September. To date, we now have more than 500 members. Our weekly hikes can be intimate, with as few as 15 hikers, or they can be events, with upwards of 70 participants.
Based on our response in the Triangle, we are expanding GetHiking! into Winston-Salem and Charlotte, with hikes scheduled to begin in both regions later this month. You can learn more about the Triad program here, GetHiking! Charlotte here. And you can find out about our hikes and other events, and join up, by visiting the following:
- GetHiking! Charlotte, go here. We have a kickoff event scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 16 at 6:30 at the Great Outdoor Provision Store in the Park Road Shopping Center.
- GetHiking! Triad, go here. We have a kickoff event scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Great Outdoor Provision Store in the Friendly Shipping Center in Greensboro.
- GetHiking! Triangle, go here.
There’s another big reason I started the program, one especially pertinent to folks interested in living healthier in the new year:
It’s good for you. Consider:
- Hiking reduces your chances of heart disease.
- Hiking on a regular basis can lower blood pressure by 4 to 10 points.
- A frequent walk in the woods can help reduce your chances of getting diabetes. If you already have the disease, hiking, combined with proper diet, can reduce or even eliminate the need for insulin therapy.
- As a weight-bearing exercise, hiking can help stave off osteoporosis.
- A regular exercise program centered around hiking, coupled with a sound diet, can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Depending upon your pace and other factors, you can burn up to 500 calories per hour hiking.
- A walk in the woods can clear your head — and that’s not us talking, that’s your endorphins, according to recent studies. Hiking is also effective at reducing stress and relieving anxiety.
- Hiking improves muscle fitness.
- Hiking lowers your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Hiking can lower the risk of colon and breast cancer.
Hiking is a well-rounded activity. If you’ve been reluctant to hit the trail because you’re fretful of going alone, or you don’t know where to go, then you no longer have an excuse. You have GetHiking!
So get going, join your local club and we’ll see you on the trail.