Cindy Laquidara HikesThe benefits of hiking go on and on, but there’s one quality that motivates seasoned pros and curious newbies alike: stress relief. Setting off to go on a good hike can do wonders for you if you’ve been feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. And picking it up as a full-on habit can give you something to look forward to each week, so even if you’re having a mini freakout or two, you know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve narrowed down the four best ways hiking is a serious stressbuster.

The Distance

Speaking both literally and figuratively here, putting some space between you and your daily life makes a huge difference. It’s hard to stress over your phone bill or some deadline at work when you’ve hiked to a remote spot a million miles away (well, it feels like a million miles). Taking a hiking trail up to a faraway spot adds some much-needed distance from everyday pressures, and if you’re getting sick of the same old routine every day, what’s better than escaping it for a little while?

The Views

For some it’s the most important part of the trek and for others it’s just an added bonus, but we can all agree that the views that come with hiking are phenomenal. Imagine ending your workout routine with a peaceful, up-close-and-personal gaze across the top of a mountain range. Your spin class can’t do that!

The Workout

Hiking is a great way to work off some stress through physical activity, and it doesn’t feel as taxing as straight-up exercising. Powering your way up through the last bit of the trail can feel exhilarating for your body. Bonus: after a lot of physical exertion, you’re likely to sleep better at night.

The Knowledge

If you’re a huge geography or nature nerd, hiking is obviously an educational dream. But even if you’re not cataloguing the bugs you find or painstakingly charting your course, you’re still learning a ton. Your self-sufficiency, map and/or compass skills, and general knowledge of the area will all get a boost.

The Social Network

This one is subjective because you might like to hoof it alone, but there’s a reason hiking groups and clubs are popular. It’s fun and relaxing to hike with other likeminded people, especially when you can share the joy of completing a trail with others. And simply meeting new people can improve your overall attitude and expand your point of view.