“Walking is a superfood. It’s the defining movement of a human.” Kathy Bowman/ Move Your DNA
When I look back on the road to my recovery from addiction, the 12-step aphorism, “putting one foot in front of the other” has literal significance to me. I am always up for a long walk or a hike to blow out the cobwebs and get the blood flowing. In fact, I would choose a ramble on diverse terrain over just about anything else I can think of.
Exercise and Addiction Recovery
Everyone knows walking is good for you. But did you know how good? And walking provides additional benefits to those recovering from substance use disorders (SUD). Especially those who are attempting to rebuild a healthy lifestyle and reverse the ill effects of long term drug or alcohol use. The best news about taking a hike? It’s free, easy to do, and a foolproof way to get your sober self back into shape.
12 Good Reasons to Take a Hike:
1. Hikers are Happy
Hiking decreases depression and feelings of hopelessness. It also allows us to connect with nature and ourselves, bringing a sense of well-being.
2. Walking Improves Sleep Quality
Sleep patterns are disrupted in early addiction recovery. A bracing walk in the fresh air makes you tired, and enhances REM sleep.
3. Your Heart, Lungs and Blood Vessels Thank You
Hiking improves cardio-respiratory fitness. And the farther you get from the madding crowd, the cleaner the oxygen.
4. Walking Improves Muscular Fitness
Without putting too much stress on your joints, the muscles in your legs, glutes and core will develop and strengthen on the winding, tilting path.
5. When you Hike You Burn Calories Naturally
An hour of hiking burns between 300 and 600 calories. Hiking may take longer than running, but the weight control benefits are the same.
6. Hiking Improves Creativity
Spend time out of doors and your attention span and brain power increases – creative juices flow more freely when you are active than when you are sitting.
7. Walking Increases Bone Density
Especially if you walk with a pack, as you are getting plenty of “load bearing” exercise.
8. Hiking Improves Your Connections
To the people you are with and to your inner-self, without the distractions of day to day stressors. The serene silence when you are alone recharges you to the core.
9. The Challenge of Hiking Increases Self-Esteem
Winding your way on a difficult track and taking responsibility for your actions improves emotional stability as well as physical stability.
10. Hiking Provides Beautiful Views
The sounds, smells and sights in the majesty of nature have a calming effect on the mind.
11. Hiking Improves Balance
The uneven terrain will improve your balancing skills, automatically adjusting to the changes on ground level.
12. Walking Keeps You Young and Lowers the Risk of Early Death
Research presented at the European Society of Cardiology, showed that “those who engaged in daily moderate exercise such as a brisk walk or jog…have experienced anti-aging benefits that could add an additional three to seven years to their lives.” Just 7 active hours a week increases life expectancy!
Take a hike!
Whether you decide on a Sunday stroll, an afternoon hike or a weekend in the wild, get out and chart your own course, take control of your workout and improve your overall well-being. Especially if you are in recovery from addiction. Take a hike!