Hiking’s hidden benefits: A lesson in wellbeing

After visiting Moel Famau a couple of weeks ago I was inspired to write a piece on hiking. The hike itself wasn’t particularly hard – there were literally children doing it. But, there was just something special about it – I got such a buzz afterwards.

Despite not being the most challenging it was certainly a tough 4 hours and provided an almost instant improvement to my wellbeing, which prompted me to do some research into the area. Some of the results I found were extremely promising.

I am going to share with you some of my anecdotal experiences mixed in with the hard science behind hiking and how these can have immense benefit to you – and more importantly, your testosterone.

Hiking Scenery 

Going up a mountain is pretty much a guaranteed way to get yourself some of the best views in the world. Just looking out at the vast expanse ahead can have a fantastic head-clearing effect.

When we reached the summit of Moel Famau (not the hardest task in the world), we sat there in silence for about 5 minutes just taking in the miles and miles of green space ahead of us.

Besides getting a break from her whining…it offered me a perfect opportunity to let my mind completely empty. After a few stressful weeks with work beforehand it had an extremely de-stressing effect on me.

Clearing your head has been shown to decrease cortisol substantially which can lead to huge increases in testosterone. This is mainly due to to cortisol’s SHGB increasing properties. Basically – Clear mind – Lower Cortisol – Lower SHGB – Higher total & free testosterone.

Hiking trail

The Air

Although it’s quite common knowledge, I’m going to tell you anyway – the higher above sea level you go, the thinner the air becomes. Believe it or not, mountains are quite a way above sea level, meaning there’s less of that precious air for you to breathe in.

This challenges your respiratory system, and physical fitness in general much more than a standard walk. It can also induce a state of hypoxia without having to use one of those ridiculous bane masks that fitness ‘gurus’ like to pedal quite regularly.

Induced hypoxia has been shown to have a myriad of benefits such as increased blood flow to tissues, higher blood cell production and higher Vo2 max. These results can actually be observed after only one bout of exercise meaning just one hike can give you lasting benefits.

mountain scenery

The Success

There is a certain sense of accomplishment you get when you reach the summit. Technically, Moel Famau is actually a hill so my sense of accomplishment was diminished slightly upon learning that.

However, this is universal throughout life. Who doesn’t love to accomplish something after putting in some seriously hard work? Getting a high grade after putting in hours of research, winning a game of football you’ve put your all into or even completing a video game you’ve stayed up all night to play.

This is backed up by science which shows that competing with people or against yourself can be beneficial to testosterone. Especially when you taste success or complete a massive task – this can skyrocket testosterone and give you a massive mood boost along with the benefits increased testosterone bring. 

Deep valley moel famau

The End

To conclude, not only is hiking a great way to access the world’s greatest views but it comes with a whole host of health benefits both for the mind and body. Get your hiking boots out and get rambling.