Why Hiking is Good for Mental Health
Colorado trails are one of the best things, in my opinion, of our state. At the end of this post, I will list some of my family’s favorites right here in Castle Rock. While most people know exercise is good for your physical health (hello endorphins!), let’s take a look at why hiking a trail can be good for your mental and emotional well being.
What are the benefits of getting out on a trail?
Unplugging from your daily demands in a natural setting can boost clarity and positivity.
Practice mindfulness by getting in tune with your physical body, thoughts and feelings. Turn off your cell phone or put it in airplane mode so you can still take pictures, and take in the experience of being outdoors. Try this mindfulness exercise: Use your 5 senses to notice and slow down your mind. Five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.
Being outdoors can be inspiring and calming (may be an obvious one?!).
Enjoying the literal and figurative change of pace and perspective, especially when you feel “stuck” with something in your life.
Walking is a form of bi-lateral stimulation (stimulating both sides of the brain), which so much research shows how that promotes increased mental and emotional health. Read more about bi-lateral stimulation here: https://authenticconnectionscounseling.com/service/emdr-trauma/
Exercise (in this case walking/hiking) is proven in research to reduce tension and stress, improve mood, boost self-esteem, improve sleep, and increase energy.
So if you are new to Castle Rock or haven’t explored all the trails, here are some of my suggestions (besides the obvious ones: The Rock and The MAC). These have all been tested and loved by my kids since the age of two.
Legacy Trail – check this new one out at Gateway Mesa Open Space.
Mitchell Creek Canyon Trail – can be accessed at Gateway Mesa Open Space, or at the trailhead in Founders Village.
Ridgeline Open Space Trails – Did you know there is a stone labyrinth there? Across the street at the top of the big hill. Many use this as a form of walking and prayer meditation.
Some close by favorites and definitely doable during a day trip are : Dawson’s Butte Ranch Open Space Trail, Castlewood Canyon State Park, Spruce Mountain Open Space Trail.
So, if you’re feeling low all you need to do is get outside for a quick boost!