7 Reasons To Go for a Hike With Your Spouse Reconnect in the great outdoors as you unplug, get some exercise and enjoy your beautiful surroundings—the nature is pretty too. BY BILL ROZDAY
Getting out of the house and enjoying a walk in nature can rejuvenate all of your senses.
Much like marriage, time spent outdoors speaks to intimate connections and cycles: how a particular wildflower blooms at the same time as a certain tree leafs out, how a mountain stream rushes full in spring and runs quietly in summer, how that water cools the forest air covering the ground in soft moss, or how time can bring a marriage closer together.
Some define hiking as simply putting two feet down in rhythm, but it can be so much more. What better way to spend time with your spouse this weekend than by setting off on a little adventure in the warm summer air and going for a hike. Here are seven reasons to get out of the house, share some time together and see nature first hand.
1. Unbiased gender calorie burner. Putting those two feet down in front of each other for an hour on level terrain burns 400 calories. On elevated terrain, it burns 900. Figure in some of the rock or wood obstacles along certain paths and the numbers rise. This is a shared health activity; a couple can readily recognize and appreciate each other's progress, since hiking isn't designed specifically as a woman's or man's weight loss program.
2. This is an exercise sport. Not only does hiking build leg muscle, it tunes the cardiovascular system. Those fortunate enough to hike in hilly or mountainous terrain almost immediately elevate their heart rate upon beginning an ascent and easily reach oxygen debt. A 500-foot rise such as those common in Maryland's, Catoctin Mountains offers up to 30 minutes of aerobic training, while a 1500-foot climb like that at British Columbia's, Maligne Lake yields well over an hour's work, amplified by the weight of a daypack. There is little hazard with much exertion because a couple hoping to keep each other healthy over the long term knows each other's knees, legs and lungs and can advise when to ease the intensity of the climb. Both will welcome the chance to sit and absorb a high country view or sound of a rushing stream. Situations such as these make it obvious that marriage is a matter of taking care of each other.
3. Hiking touches the high-tech world. Some of the most sophisticated knowledge of footwear mechanics in the world is at play within this sport. Hikers exert constant demand for lighter-weight footwear that simultaneously offers sufficient support on the uneven surfaces of trails. The changing conditions on trails demand fabrics that protect against moisture and reduce sweating, yet hold in heat under the cold conditions that this all-season sport is practiced in. The result is a tendency to borrow from military fabrics tested on foot soldiers serving in extreme conditions all over the globe. Another result is Christmas giving ideas; the hiking boots I bought for my wife to stabilize her steps through the Blue Ridge Mountains also served as winter snow boots for her.
4. Hiking is a sport touching the inner world through eloquent literature. The American hiker's chief literary companion, Henry David Thoreau, is regarded as a true master of the prose sentence and acknowledged as one of a handful of inarguably great American authors. There are few better ways to learn about a partner than sharing choice written thoughts. How long has it been since you practiced the gentle art of reading to each other while stretched out on a rock in the forest?
5. Hiking is a relationship sport. The hypnotic effect of placing those two feet down in rhythm enhances prostate health by increasing blood flow. Research proves that walking enhances sexual fantasy as well. Man is a creature built to walk and run and did so throughout thousands of years as he chased down game on foot, long before the automobile and a desk job largely removed foot work from his life. One common ground that men and women share sexually is that of nature, with its stimulating scents, quietness and graphic reflections of humanity in its flora and fauna.
6. Hiking touches the green movement profoundly. For more than 50 years its exhortation to, "Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints" has urged a gentle and selfless approach to life. Its international appeal dates back to ancient Greek physicians who prescribed walks as medicine and is updated almost daily with the awareness of new botanical health aids culled from far-flung corners of the earth. A friend from Peru familiar with hikes throughout the high country around Machu Picchu relates an anecdote featuring a tourist troubled by altitude sickness. His guide reached over for some of the fabled South American coca leaves and solved his problem by instructing him to chew them to relieve his symptoms. The hiking trail is a place of happiness and of sharing and helping strangers; that type of giving finds its way into a couple's entire experiences outside and helps set a tone for their entire marriage.
7. Hiking is a family sport. There is a growing movement seeking to wrest the minds of children away from computers and expose them to the cycle of the earth. President Obama, during his campaign, alluded to the need for children to break away from the electronic world into the world of family. Watching the effect of the outdoors on children can't help but bond couples, especially if they decided before the hike that their shared experiences outdoors would be their children’s' experiences as well.
Bill Rozday grew up in western Pennsylvania and began writing at 13 years old. His latest work depicts a hike over a California mountaintop once hiked by Native Americans gathering obsidian to fashion into arrowheads. A poet as well, he has published in periodicals in Scotland and Australia. Bill is the author of The High Ground Books, a hiking series. For more information visit www.virginpinespress.com.