5 Benefits of Walking Outdoors

Plus, healthy snacks for your daypack.
Adult couple hiking in the woods with dog

“When my family moved to Vermont almost 20 years ago, it felt like we had stepped into a postcard,” shares Kim Dittus, MD, PhD, medical oncologist at University of Vermont Medical Center. “There is an enjoyable outdoor activity around every corner in the Northeast.”

As we leave mud season behind, one classic outdoor activity – hiking – becomes the seasonal focus for both avid athletes and casual walkers.

5 Health Benefits of Hiking and the Outdoors

Regardless of your skill or fitness level, the health benefits of hiking and being outdoors are undeniable.

  • Walking outdoors is great exercise. “The changing terrain of a hike adds an extra boost for your muscles and cardiovascular system,” notes Dr. Dittus.
  • Spending time in nature improves your circadian rhythms and helps you get better sleep.
  • Hiking or walking outdoors provides an opportunity to disconnect from the constant mental stimulation of our electronic devices.
  • Spending time outside helps reduce symptoms of depression and improves emotional well-being.
  • Hiking or walking with others improves social connection.

Healthy Hiking Snacks

If you’re planning an enjoyable day outside, consider packing a nutritious snack or lunch. Below are two helpful tip sheets for making and safely packing portable snacks and meals. Each tip sheet includes two delicious recipes that are quick to make, convenient to pack and perfect for sharing while you’re on the trails.

  • Carrot Cake Energy Bites get their sweetness from dates and include important phytonutrients from their spices and seasonings.
  • Energy Bites are bite-sized powerhouses, rich in protein, carbohydrates and fat to keep you energized and satisfied longer. This recipe offers inspiration to create your own tasty combination of flavors and ingredients. “Depending on what you add, you can include healthy fats and lots of phytonutrients,” notes Dr. Dittus. “Go light on the sweetener and watch your serving size.” You can also make and freeze them well before your outdoor adventure and pack only what you need for the day.

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