How Does Hiking Benefit You During Quarantine?

Julia Gentili, Senior Editor

Over quarantine people have been locked inside of their houses. They get bored, run out of things to do or start to feel trapped. A good and safe way to break this trend is to get outside and start moving while social distancing from others. While outside, consider getting on a trail and going hiking. Walking through the forest rather on a flat trail, or going up a mountain has many beneifts.

Physically hiking can help your body and overall health. Hiking is a type of cardio exercise so your cardiovascular system and respiratory system will become stronger. It can reduce the chances of heart disease, strokes, decreasing blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol and the lower risk of type two diabetes. While hiking you encounter having to step around rocks and root or mud, having to watch where you put your feet. This improves your balance while working your trunk and core muscles. Calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles are constantly being used. Also compared to running on the street, walking or even running on a dirt trail is a lot better for your joints because there is less of an impact.

There are also mental health benefits to hiking. Being outside and in nature is calming and can help decrease anxiousness and help prevent depression. It can help us recover from “attention overload” which is the everyday stress that comes with life. For example, especially in today’s world of working from home a remote learning, getting up and walking away from screens is important. When on screens for too long your sleep habits, moment awareness and productivity can be negatively impacted. So stepping away from the screens and hitting the trails can keep our mind sharp. Hiking can challenge our mind and improve problem solving skills for short periods of time while figuring out how to overcome an obstacle like a steep rock scramble or a stream with no bridge. Creativity is also shown to be increased in individuals who spend time walking outside, getting inspiration and letting their mind wander. 

Hiking is also very beneficial to your relationships. Rather with a spouse, a family member or friends, the great outdoors brings people together. Spending time on a trial with someone allows connection. It’s just you, some trees and them to talk to. Also most people feel positive emotions while outside and feel more empathic, helpful and generous. Even while hiking along, upon returning home and thinking to yourself, that good energy flows to others.

So if you are thinking about going out on an adventure here are some local spots you go to. In Goffstown there is Mount Uncanoonuc North and South with multiple trails. There is also the Goffstown Rail Trail which connects to the New Boston Rail Trail. In New Boston there are multiple conservation areas with trails. To list a few there is Saunders Pasture which overlooks Great Meadow. In the center of town, the Mill Pond trail follows the river in between Mill Street and the town library. The New Boston Trail is 4 miles through the wetlands of Clark Swamp. Parking for this is located next to the transfer station. Joe English Hill is a popular spot with the trail located at the end of Summit Drive. There’s multiple trails at the top and it is about a mile to the summit.  Just remember while in any of these areas to follow the rules of leashed pets, no campfires, no littering and to stay on the trails to not disturb the wildlife. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a way to get out of the house while social distancing but have an adventure, hiking is a perfect option. The exercise is great for your body and mind and can help improve your state of mind. There’s also plenty of places locally to explore.