A few reasons appear in this piece from the Raleigh News & Observer:

Slowing the aging process, lowering blood pressure, keeping a healthy weight, preventing heart disease and a host of other benefits derived from hiking didn’t top most hikers’ reasons for being out on a chilling 30-degree day taking a three-mile trek over the Triangle’s biggest mountain, 867-foot Occoneechee. Most were too busy listening to ranger Christopher Greiner explain the rare presence of oconee bells or mountain spleenwort, more commonly found in the high country, at Occoneechee, a state natural area with five distinct eco zones.

That’s part of what makes hiking and walking the nation’s top recreational pursuits: You’re improving your health and you don’t even know it.

I do it because fat never sleeps. (This morning’s anti-fat effort: Six miles, 1800 feet of climb, in two hours and five minutes. It’s a start.).