1. GET A MIND-BODY REBOOT.
Research from Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health shows that outdoor exercise lowers blood pressure and boosts mental health more than staying indoors. “Whether you’re kayaking, rock climbing, horseback riding, or mountain biking, outdoor activities give you a chance to breathe in some fresh air, soak in some vitamin D, and recharge,” says Jennifer Pharr Davis, a hiker, author, and owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Company, who has hiked six continents, exploring trails in all 50 states, and set the endurance record on the 2,185-mile Appalachian Trail.
2. GAIN NEW CONFIDENCE (AND NEW MUSCLE).
Setting a one-rep max in the gym is one thing, but “if you’re setting a new PR on a trail run, barrel rolling a kayak for the first time, or biking farther than you ever have before, you’re always up against natural obstacles that are pure and relentless,” Davis says. They are guaranteed to expose your weaknesses and “shock” your muscles with new challenges.
3. BE YOUR BEST SELF.
In the wilderness, “you’re always welcome and reminded that you are beautiful and that your body can do amazing things,” Davis says. There, you’re stripped of judgment and other hurdles that may have worked their way into your life. Research shows that hiking can even boost creativity by up to 60%.