Woman Hiking in Fall Autunm

Increase Immunity and Overall Well-Being with a Hike

Both walking and spending time in nature are correlated with better physical and mental health. Take a hike and compound the benefits. It doesn’t matter how strenuous it is – you’ll still reap lots of benefits even if it is a meander in the woods.

Human beings are programmed to sync with the rhythms of nature. Sunrise and sunset, the changes of the seasons, and even the subtle atmospheric changes that we can clearly see affecting the plants in our gardens also affect us. The difference is that our minds, ever-busy with a modern lifestyle, jettison attention away from the way our bodies and minds react to nature. By immersing ourselves in nature for an average of just 17 minutes a day we could re-sync. One study, by White, et. all (2019) found that a total of two hours a week in nature is correlated with better physical and psychological health (“Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing,” Scientific Reports, June 13, 2019). As a simple experiment, you could sip your coffee outside in the morning in a natural area for a few weeks and see if it appears to affect you positively.

However, using that same time to take a walk in nature may bring you even better benefits. One study by Sand, et.al (2013) found that just 5 minutes of walking significantly increased the amount of white blood cells in people. (“Effects of exercise on leukocytosis and blood hemostasis in 800 healthy young females and males,” World Journal of Experimental Medicine, Feb 20, 2013).

Here are some easy and effective ways to get your fix:

* A morning walk of just 17 minutes with your coffee or tea is a great way to start your day.

* A post-dinner walk of 17 minutes will also help your digestion, and if you take it with your family or friends, add points for time spent with loved ones.

* A once a week hike of about two hours can be a really nice ritual if you don’t have much time during the week. Schedule it with a friend who makes you feel heard and practice active-listening.

Heather Salazar

Heather Salazar, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy, artist, and certified yoga teacher. She has been teaching philosophy, yoga, and meditation in university classes and at colleges since 2007. Her philosophical research focuses on the intersections of metaethics and philosophy of mind in Eastern and Western traditions and in particular on conceptions of the self and their impact on moral obligations. Her publications include _The Philosophy of Spirituality_, “Descartes’ and Patanjali’s Conceptions of the Self” (Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion 2011), "Why Are You Standing on My Yoga Mat?!" in _Yoga - Philosophy for Everyone: Bending Body and Mind_ and “Kantian Business Ethics” in Business in Ethical Focus. She is currently under contract for a monograph which assesses and contributes to neo-Kantian ethical constructivism: _Creating a Shared Morality_ and is co-editing _Mind Over Matter_.

In her art, Salazar specializes in photography, figurative charcoals and monotypes, as well as vivid oil paintings of landscapes and objects of meditation. Salazar’s art is deeply impacted by her philosophical research in philosophy. Her art graces the covers philosophy books such as _The Philosophy of Spirituality_ and all of the books in the series _Introduction to Philosophy__ (Rebus).