Man and woman hiking on rocks alongside riverbed.

Hiking: the ultimate guide for 2024

Hiking, also known as (long-distance) walking, is a beloved outdoor activity where you explore nature on foot. In addition to hiking, there is also a more extreme variant called trekking. Trekking is a multi-day journey where you traverse different routes over several days.

Hiking and trekking are wonderful ways to escape the everyday routine, admire the stunning surroundings, and simultaneously boost both your body and mind.

The benefits of hiking

Hiking improves fitness and stimulates calorie burning

Hiking is an excellent form of exercise that helps improve your fitness and maintain a healthy weight. During hiking, you strengthen muscles, burn calories, and enhance your endurance.

Strong bones and muscles

By hiking regularly, you stress both muscles and bones. Hiking on diverse terrains stimulates bone growth and density, which is particularly beneficial for individuals susceptible to osteoporosis (a skeletal disorder characterized by low bone mineral density and disrupted bone tissue coherence). Moreover, hiking strengthens the muscles in your legs, buttocks, and core, leading to improved posture and greater stability.

Stress reduction and enhanced mental well-being

The soothing environment of nature has a positive effect on your mental well-being. Hiking provides an opportunity to escape daily stress factors and relax your mind. The combination of physical activity, fresh air, and the beautiful surroundings has a calming effect, reduces feelings of anxiety, and improves overall mood. Therefore, hiking can help alleviate symptoms of depression.

Stimulates cognitive functions

Research shows that hiking promotes concentration and creativity. Hiking stimulates the brain and enhances problem-solving abilities. The stimulating effect on cognitive functions reduces the risk of burnout.

Social interaction and connection

Hiking can be done with others, making it a great opportunity to spend time with friends, family, or meet new people. Hiking together creates a sense of connection, promotes social interaction, and can lead to valuable friendships. 

Tips to start hiking

Begin with short distances

As a beginner, it's important to start slowly and allow your body to adapt to the new activity. Begin with short distances and gradually increase. This helps prevent injuries and gives your body time to adjust to the exertion. As your fitness improves, you can gradually increase the distance and intensity of your hike.

Ensure good hiking shoes and socks

Invest in a pair of good hiking shoes that fit comfortably and provide sufficient support to your feet and ankles. Also, don't forget to wear special hiking socks. They provide extra comfort, cushioning, and moisture regulation during the hike. Wearing the right shoes and socks is essential to prevent blisters and discomfort. Discover the new hiking collection by STOX Energy Socks.

Plan your route and be prepared

Before setting out, it's wise to plan your route and familiarize yourself with the terrain. Check the weather forecast, bring an adequate supply of water and (healthy) snacks, and ensure you have a map or navigation app with you. It's handy to carry a first aid kit and a mobile phone for emergencies.

Listen to your body

During hiking, it's important to listen to your body. Take regular breaks to rest and hydrate. If you experience pain, fatigue, or discomfort, don't push yourself and give yourself time to recover. Listening to your body helps prevent injuries and ensures you continue to enjoy hiking.

Together on the trail

In an earlier paragraph of this article, we mentioned various benefits of hiking together. Additionally, hiking together is also motivating. Making plans to hike together provides the accountability to actually go out into nature. Moreover, you can encourage or support each other during challenging or strenuous sections.

Hiking: choosing the right gear

As a hiker, having the right gear is essential. It can make the difference between a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience and a difficult and frustrating journey. Good shoes and clothing are important, but for those who want to be truly prepared, investing in a pair of high-quality hiking socks (with compression) is crucial. These hiking socks from STOX Energy Socks provide support, reduce muscle fatigue, prevent injuries, and accelerate recovery. They offer stability, improve blood circulation, and reduce friction and shock. Learn more about the importance of compression hiking socks in our comprehensive article on this topic.