Letter writer: Hiking offers health benefits, too

Write to Mountain Xpress
Graphic by Lori Deaton

In your two [Wellness] issues, [“Healthy Futures”] and “Beyond Medicine,” [Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, Xpress] I was surprised that none of your articles mentioned hiking, hiking trails and hiking clubs. Western North Carolina is an outdoor paradise.

Come and take a hike with Carolina Mountain Club (www.carolinamountainclub.org), the largest hiking and trail-maintaining club in Western North Carolina, maybe the largest in the state. CMC leads four hikes a week year-round. Meet hikers mostly between 45 and 85 (yes, over 85 — not a typo) who show up week after week. But there are many other clubs and meetup groups in Western North Carolina that cater to various levels, interest and age groups.

People are drawn to our area because of our mountains, trails, national and state parks and forests. Spending time in nature makes people healthier, both physically and mentally. It’s now accepted that trees, streams and trails heal. Doctors are prescribing an outdoor cure for their patients on prescription pads.

When you walk, you’re then encouraged to eat better and be more active in the rest of your life. And if you hike with an organized group, you learn about the area and bond with friendly people who quickly become part of your community.

You might want to revive your outdoor section and give readers an idea of the outdoor opportunities that we have in Western North Carolina.

— Danny Bernstein
Asheville

Editor’s response: Thumbs-up to your suggestion that people get out and hike for its health-giving (and other) beneficial effects. We didn’t mean to slight hiking’s importance by not including it in this year’s Wellness supplements. However, we have published Wellness section stories on hiking and the benefits of getting out in nature, including our recent story on forest “bathing” in Nov. 30 issue and another story in the Dec. 28 issue on seasonal affective disorder, which featured the Carolina Mountain Club.

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