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Hiking is wonderful way to ‘get back to nature’


Taking advantage of ‘The Great Outdoors’

Now that spring has taken full effect, there are a number of different outdoor activities that are available to local California residents. Walking and hiking are two of the most common sources of exercise among civilians. There are many health benefits to hiking, additionally, hiking is a wonderful way to become exposed to a variety of places. 

Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise and is very physically and mentally beneficial. Health benefits of hiking include building stronger muscles and bones, improving balance, improving heart health, and decreasing the risk of certain respiratory problems. Additionally, hiking can help to manage weight, keep sufferers of arthritis more limber and mobile, provide the body with Vitamin D, and reduce deaths from coronary diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

Although there are many positive physical benefits of hiking, hiking can also help to improve an individual's mental health. Positive impacts of hiking include reducing stress, calming anxiety, and lower risks of depression. Blue Cross North Carolina released an article in 2023 entitled "Six Surprising Ways Hiking Can Improve Your Mental Health" that touched on the positive mental benefits of hiking including reducing the tendency to ruminate, improving creative problem solving, reducing symptoms of ADHD, preventing dementia and cognitive impairment, and curtailing the loss of gray matter. 

The percentage of Black Americans that hike makes up a mere 11.9%. Dating back to the Jim Crow era, many Black Americans were not able to visit national and state parks. Nature hikes tended to serve the elite and rich. Although those barriers are no longer present, distance and financial hardship are still a concern for those looking to begin their hiking journey. Hiking equipment can be very expensive and the best hiking gear is lightweight and aimed towards a White and wealthy demographic. 

South Los Angeles is a large community, however, access to nature is limited to smaller parks scattered throughout the community. The South Los Angeles Wetlands Park has provided residents an opportunity to explore the native flora and fauna. There are a number of Black founded organizations that are making it their mission to represent a more diverse hiking community. Black founded hiking groups include Black Men Hike LA and Black Girls Trekkin'. Both groups are active and promote a strong sense of community and fitness as well as a love of the outdoors and fellowship. 

For more information or to begin your hiking journey, visit Black Girls Trekkin' | Bringing Diversity & Inclusion To The Outdoors or @blackgirlstrekkin and HOME | Black Men Hike or @blackmenhikela.