This is because, in addition to improved cardiorespiratory fitness (heart, lungs, blood vessels), hiking has been shown to reduce depression and help you to sleep better. Those who hike regularly have a lowered risk of colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung, thyroid, and endometrial cancer.
What's more, hiking exercises almost every part of your body: legs, knees, ankles, arms, hips and butt, abdominals, shoulders, and neck.
Hiking exercises your body and mind and nourishes your imagination. Hiking is a sensory experience as it creates awareness in your eyes, nose, and ears. "Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety," says Gregory A. Miller, Ph.D., president of the American Hiking Society. "Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that."
Hiking can provide a mindful and meditative practice. It's a beautiful way to get outside, move your body, and connect with nature. When we connect with nature, we naturally become inspired, grounded, and creative.
So, where does this fit in with thyroid health?
I have noticed in my practice that many of my clients have manifested thyroid conditions because of a long pattern of not speaking up or feeling blocked creatively. Often, I've seen clients who were physically or emotionally abused and have held the trauma inside, afraid to speak up, and even repeat the same situations again, feeling unworthy of being heard, or asking for and receiving the love and support they truly desire.
Are you experiencing something similar? Have your physical symptoms slightly improved with nutrition, lifestyle shifts, or medication, but you just can't seem to feel 100 percent better?
Can you recognize any areas of struggle in your life where you've been unable to speak your ideas and truth without being judged, shamed, or criticized? Do you find yourself allowing others to speak without expressing your voice because you are afraid of what they may say or how they may perceive you?
How often are you in nature?
How often do you give yourself space to be liberated from technology and the responsibilities of your work and family life?
Hiking is a great time to take your mind off of the distractions of the modern world and tap into the essence of nature's gifts. Notice what lies before you, even if it's a distant horizon, because the sky really is the limit when it comes to the possibilities ahead of you and all that is around you.
If you live in a place where seasons are changing, learn all about the foliage that surrounds you. Knowing the names of flowers, plants, and trees can help to create a deeper understanding of all the amazing life that surrounds you in any given moment. It will take you out of your own head, out of the worry, fear, and doubt, and help you to shift into a state of wonder, gratitude, and abundance.
Expert tip: On your next hike, pause along the way or at the peak to sit in silence or listen to a guided meditation.
You can also download my 36-minute Thyroid Yoga guided meditation for creativity and self-expression here. Consistent practice of this meditation as part of your daily self-care ritual will train your subconscious mind to release old patterns of anxiety that are no longer serving you, create space for healing, manifest your highest desires, and activate health and sustained vitality so you can create everything you've ever wanted — along with a state of harmony and balance in your body.
Learn more about holistic self-care rituals that will change the way you feel every day in my Thyroid Yoga course.