In his new book Adventure in Everything, Matthew Walker chronicles everything from fatherhood to fitness to focusing in our tech-heavy world. Somehow, he’s able to connect this all to the confidence and boundary pushing he helps others experience as a mountain guide.
Walker discovered how much his clients learned about themselves during long (three- to five-week) mountain treks, and decided to pursue his master’s degree in applied behavioral science so he could help them, and others, find their best lives through his coaching. “You’re really able to connect with others and develop deep relationships when you’re focused on activities of survival, like cooking, climbing and resting. You can apply the lessons you learn on an adventure trip to most other areas of your life,” Walker says.
Don’t have the cash to go on an extended outdoor trip or to hire a personal coach? Here are a few tips from Walker that you can try for free—and with your feet safely planted on the ground!
How can exercise help someone find their best self?
When we exert ourselves and meet challenges, we gain clarity on aspects of life that are most meaningful and support our well-being.
Keep reading to learn what you can do in the next 24 hours to discover more adventure in your life.
Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to spend an active weekend in Aspen, Colorado—basically the epicenter for the healthiest lifestyles in America. As I was reading a city magazine in my hotel room when I first arrived, it was clear that this place was different. (A resident detailed his daily routine, which started with a hike, followed by a few hours in the office, a ski break at lunch, catching up on a bit of work and wrapping it all up with a run.) So I knew I was in for a load of fun during the next few days!
The adventure crew at The Little Nell, the gorgeous hotel that hosted our group in Aspen, kicked things off right with a morning of fly fishing. While I’m no pro, the guides helped me taste a little victory—I caught two fish! (Although I have to admit, they were both less than six inches long. And don’t worry, we just released my little Nemos back into the pond.) After fueling up with a gourmet picnic lunch, I got the rest of my activity in by shopping the afternoon away.
Later on during the weekend, we hit the skies during a paragliding outing. I wasn’t nervous one bit until our Land Rover kept climbing, and climbing, and climbing up Aspen Mountain. We reached about 11,000 feet (more than 3,000 feet higher than our landing spot) and saw our parachutes and pros waiting for us. I started to get what you might call “Sweaty Palm Syndrome” when I saw the steep hill we’d be jumping off while strapped to a person we’d known for five minutes!
For the conclusion of my paragliding escapade and more fit trip details, click below.
In a post a few weeks ago about The #1 Predictor of a Happy Marriage, you saw how one FITNESS editor got a fabulous new point of view from demanding hike. But you can still get the health benefits of hiking–or trail running!–on tamer paths, too. Spark People gives offers seven good reasons to put on your trail shoes and get closer to nature this weekend…
1. Burn More Calories
Whenever you change up your workout routine, you will challenge your muscles in new ways and burn more calories. The changes in terrain of a trail will cause you to recruit more muscle fibers to balance and find your footing. And many trails are embedded with inclines, steps, bridges, stones, downed tree trunks, puddles, creeks—all sorts of obstacles you need to navigate, which means you’ll burn 10% more calories than walking or running on a flat surface.
2. Protect Your Joints
One good thing about walking or running on a hard surface is that it can help encourage the development of strong bones. But for anyone with existing joint problems or previous joint injuries, all that pounding on a hard surface can really give your body a beating. That’s why trails are a great alternative. Grass and dirt are far softer than cement and blacktop, making walking or running on a trail much easier on your joints.
3. Stay Cool
As the mercury rises, sometimes it is just too hot and sunny to work out comfortably when you’re outside. Instead of letting the heat stop you, hit the trail. It’s noticeably cooler in the shady environment surrounded by towering trees that provide cover from the intense sun.
4. Breathe Easier
Even if you can’t always see it, there is pollution all around us, and you breathe it in when you walk or run next to a road traveled by vehicles. Not cool. One study found that exercising too close to traffic can actually increase your risk of cardiovascular disease because of the inhalation of pollution. So whenever you can, get away from high-trafficked roads. The trail is perfect for that!
5. Beat Boredom
Tired of the same old routine? There is so much beauty and interest in the natural world that you may find the minutes fly by as you look at the trees, animals, birds, and other plants along your trail.
6. Lift Your Spirits
More and more research shows that spending time in nature isn’t just fun—it’s essential for our well-being. Getting away from the hustle and bustle, basking in the sun, slowing down and smelling the roses: It can help us reduce stress, ward off depression, get our daily dose of vitamin D, and generally feel healthier.
7. Bond with Your Buds (or Your Kids)
Going for a hike is a great way to hang out with your friends and do something active. Trail hiking is great for pets and kids, too. They’ll have a blast exploring the plants, insects and animals they see. It’s a family-friendly activity you can add to your “fun” list that gets everyone active!
More from Spark People:
- 10 Things to Take on a Hike
- Precautions You Must Take When Exercising Outdoors
- The Proven Weight-Loss Program that Isn’t a Diet