Courtesy of Hope Zvara, CEO of Mother Trucker Yoga and yoga, movement and lifestyle expert:
There is nothing better to boost your mood than getting out for a walk. But even better than a walk is a hike in nature. There is something to be said about nature's magic—the soothing experience of being outdoors in nature that soothes the soul.
For many of us, daily life can feel stressful, and as drivers, stress can feel like it's around every corner. You are waiting on loads, worried about missed deadlines, traffic, parking issues, food challenges and being away from family for long periods. It is essential that as a driver, you take time to get out in nature. And what better way than with a hike.
Exercise on any level is beneficial on any level, but getting yourself outside in nature for a short walk or a hike can do amazing things for you physically, mentally, and emotionally. When we feel stressed, unhappy, or physically out of sorts, a hike outside in nature can be just what the doctor ordered.
Here's how hiking can have a positive impact on your health and happiness:
Hiking helps you destress.
When you get outside and go for a hike, you create a conscious disconnection with everything else that is going on in life. Wherever you are, make sure you take notice of the trees, the birds' sounds or the leaves crunching beneath your feet. Even the interstate in the distance can be a reminder of your time out to relax. The temptation may be there to take your phone with, but next time leave it in the truck or your pocket and take that step into nature for you to enjoy at the moment. Nature has a way of helping us get out of the sympathetic nervous system, our fight-flight-freeze response and into our parasympathetic system allowing us to rest, digest and reset. So, when you hop back into your truck, you have a fresh new perspective on what lies ahead.
Hiking burns more calories.
When out on rough terrain, your body has to work harder than when you walk on flat surfaces. That uneven terrain requires your body to use muscles you don't otherwise use, and add in a few hills and valleys, and you've got yourself a great workout. Livestrong.com noted that a 160-pound adult burns between 430 and 440 calories per hour of hiking. Contrast that with 550 calories burned per hour for someone who weighs 200 pounds, and you can see that the more you weigh, the more calories you'll ultimately burn. That's amazing! If you still feel like you need fancy equipment to improve your physical health. You are missing the fantastic benefits of a hike in nature.
Hiking works your core muscles.
Walking around in the concrete jungle we currently live in doesn't allow our body to trigger all the muscles we have, especially our core muscles. Our core includes our pelvic floor muscles, our rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles), our obliques and our various back muscles, as well as our deepest core muscle, our transverse abdominis. These muscles are just waiting to be triggered, which happens when our body walks on uneven terrain. It might be time to wake up your core muscles for those of you suffering from back pain, and no, that doesn't require hundreds of situps. Next time you go for a hike, feel your core area with your hands as you walk across that uneven terrain and notice how they automatically kick in.
For some, stepping out onto uneven ground can feel like an uneasy endeavor. If balance, weight or any ailment is of concern, don't let that deter you from getting out in nature. It doesn't' matter how far you hike or where you hike, but the fact that you do it. But when you do, there are a few things to consider to help you get out and get moving with a greater sense of ease.
Here are five tips to help you enjoy your hike:
Bring a map and hike with a partner.
A companion is suitable for both company and safety. If you go alone, make sure you take your phone for emergencies only (don't be on it, or you'll miss the beauty), or tell someone when to expect you back.
Wear appropriate shoes.
Choose well-fitting footwear with good ankle support, especially if you are new to hiking. As you become more comfortable on uneven terrain, one benefit is to feel that uneven ground beneath you, so wearing shoes that allow that creates a whole new experience for your feet and body.
Don't forget to take plenty of water along on your hike, especially in warm, sunny weather. Remember a minimum of eight glasses of water per day or half your body weight in ounces. Many don't recognize they are dehydrated until they feel thirsty, and at that point, they've been dehydrated for some time.
Trekking poles are a great addition for a nervous hiker.
Trekking poles are just big sticks to help you stay steady. And allow you to get your footing more safely while your out and about.
Walking trails at TA, Petro and TA Express.
Don't forget your favorite TA Petro might have a designated walking trail at your favorite truckstop. When you can't get to an off-road location, check out one of ours!
As a truck driver, you have a fantastic opportunity to see parts of the country others only dream about, and many have no idea about it. When is the last time you stopped for your 30 minute break to enjoy them? Or planned your reset or even a family adventure to a local state or county park? Your backyard could be your new favorite hiking grounds. Happy Trails!