Now that you are all safe and sun protected (see the previous blog post), let’s talk about hiking. Why hiking, you might ask? First of all, hiking, like most walking-based activities, is great exercise. Also, it turns out that people who walk outside (or hike) tend to have less depression, and are generally healthier and happier than people who do not walk at all or people who walk indoors. Now, this kind of study can be misleading because the researchers did not prove that being outside makes someone happier and healthier (i.e. they did not show causation), but they did show that people who walk outside are happier and healthier (they showed correlation, which is a weaker kind of connection).
Why didn’t they do a causation study to see if walking/hiking outside can cause happiness? That kind of study is actually pretty difficult to do, as it requires large populations of adults who can be followed and studied for several years. Also, to do a rigorous causation kind of study, the researchers would have to control how much each population walks around outside. Ideally there would be a significant difference between the outside walkers and those who didn’t walk outside, so that the benefits of outside walking would become clear. This can be tricky to implement in practice, even if in theory this is the kind of information that we would want to have.
But even without rigorous causation studies, hiking can be fun, is correlated with better health, and is also usually free. As we all know, foods that are free taste better and activities that are free are more fun. And, there are lots of hiking trails of all lengths and varying difficulties both in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts. See the links below and check out some trails today!
Happy hiking, readers!