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8 Life-Changing Benefits of Winter Hiking

8 Life-Changing Benefits of Winter Hiking

By Luisana Mendez

Imagen by @huellas.latinas – © Huellas Latinas – Dodge Nature Center (Feb 2022)

Winter Hiking is definitely something that was never on my list before I moved to Minnesota and even up to two years after I moved here.

However, upon discovering the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of hiking, winter walks also became an important part of my winter activities as they help me stay active and healthy while having fun.

In the winter of 2018 my relationship with the cold began. I had zero tolerance for low temperatures and was scared, as I had never been exposed to such low temperatures. I remember that sometimes I would dress exaggeratedly and perhaps not appropriately, to protect myself from the cold. And of course, he avoided going out.

Over the years, I learned to dress correctly and I increased my tolerance for cold. However, the most significant thing was to change my mentality and perspective. With the willingness to do the https://bit.ly/2RhcQOM#52HikeChallenge2021, the desire to explore the parks in all seasons of the year was also born.

The first few times I went for a walk in winter it was a complete disaster. Then I learned many things to make my Winter Hiking a safe and fun experience that I enjoy doing alone, with my dog @ReyTrailWalker, with friends and/or with the community.

Imagen by @huellas.latinas – © Huellas Latinas – Lebanon Hills Regional Park (Feb 2022)

Sharing the experience of winter walks as a community has also been fantastic. If you still have doubts and wonder why you should expose yourself to walking in the cold, here are some of the benefits of Winter Hiking.

1. They are a space of calm and serenity

Snow-covered parks convey a sense of calm and serenity. It is likely that there will be less people on the trails and, therefore, less noise and more peace. A snow-covered path is as close to absolute silence as you can get outside of a laboratory.

2. They help to improve physical condition

In itself, walking is of great physical benefit, as it keeps us active, improves balance, helps build muscle, and increases bone density. A little walking can increase our energy and stimulate circulation. Also, for those with fitness goals, winter walks could be ideal, as the body tends to burn more calories because it is constantly working to produce heat.

3. They promote the improvement of mental health

Being active outdoors can boost our mental health since it invites us to disconnect from technology, improve our mood and self-esteem, relieve insomnia and improve sleep, and also improve the functioning of the brain. By sharing hiking with other people, social skills are stimulated.

4. Decreases SAD:

Probably the most important thing, if you are presenting the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) due to lack of sun, spending a lot of time indoors, or lack of social interaction, expect that to be reduced simply by being outside. By exposing yourself to nature and breathing fresh air, the body will produce a little more vitamin D and increase endorphins and serotonin. This will be ideal to recharge your energy and feel better.

5. Enjoy incredible landscapes

Something special, unique and perhaps even magical, are the landscapes that we can see on our winter walks, especially at sunset. The scenes are really beautiful like this…

Or this one…

Imagen by @huellas.latinas – © Huellas Latinas – Byllesby Dam (Feb 2022)

6. Discover the many forms of ice

Perhaps we walk near ice formations and ignore them. However, something worth looking at is frozen water on different surfaces that can have multiple interesting shapes, like natural mini art sculptures.

7. Comfort without mosquitoes

Something quite positive about winter walks is that we can enjoy nature without the discomfort of mosquitoes and worry about ticks.

8. Stimulates curiosity

With the snow it is easier to detect animal tracks, from squirrels to deer, it is always fun trying to guess who has left a trail. 

Imagen by @huellas.latinas – © Huellas Latinas – Sakatah State Park (Jan 2022)

Where to start doing Winter Hiking?

Adjust your mindset to “cold weather” it is cold outside and it will be that way for at least 4 months. If you don’t go out, you will miss out on new and fun experiences. I recommend you take a look at our article 10 Tips to Develop a Greater Cold Tolerance.

Dress appropriately – Learn to dress in the proper layers of clothing and rule out the use of cotton. Cover your most sensitive parts, feet, hands, head and dare to live a different experience.

Prepare your body – stay hydrated, drink water, even if you are not thirsty, and eat high-calorie snacks, such as gummies, nuts, cheese and chocolate bites. Your body’s metabolism is its best source of heat, so keep it fueled.

Join the winter activities – Through Huellas Latinas we have been encouraging our community to try new things, including winter walks. We know that the cold can be threatening, but this is something you should try at least once in your life. Visit our events page to see all the activities we have prepared for the community. From Winter Hiking, Snowshoeing to Cross Country Skiing. We are even running the Huellas Latinas Winter Hiking Challenge group hikes.

Imagen by @huellas.latinas – © Huellas Latinas – Lebanon Hills Regional Park (Jan 2023)

The experience of a Winter Hiking

Winter hikes can be a bit intimidating at first, not knowing what to expect could create a bit of anxiety, but once on the trails the mindset changes and a sense of wonder at the beautiful scenery develops. On one of our most recent hikes one of our hikers expressed her enthusiasm for the “magical scenery.”

For a winter walk it is important that you dress appropriately for the weather, take the appropriate and essential equipment, if you need it, take short breaks, we do not want the body to get cold. Include snacks and hydration. Even if you are not thirsty, it is important that you always drink water.

Stay present, pay attention to all the nature that surrounds you, be grateful and respectful of the environment and other people. A short walk can make all the difference to your mental health for the rest of the day, maybe until the end of the week.

Winter can seem like an impossible season to enjoy, but walking outside for a short adventure in the cold can make all the difference.

Make a commitment to yourself to go hiking this winter, alone, with friends or with our group. Give yourself the opportunity to change your relationship with the cold. Add intention and space to simply be present enjoying the wonders around you. I promise you that when you finish the walk you will come out better than what you went into.

– Dress in layers
– Always walk accompanied
– Check the weather forecast
– Protect navigation equipment
– Stay hydrated
– Wear the right shoes and add traction

How is your relationship with winter? Let us know in the comments

See you on the Trails!



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