1. Desert Hiking
Although Phoenix has plenty of opportunities for hiking, locals may bemoan the idea of going out during the hottest months of the year. Before choosing a hike, be sure to check the weather and pack plenty of water. In fact, many individuals underestimate the amount of water they need, so we recommend you err on the side of caution by packing lots of extra water! Remember that many trails do not offer much shade, so you should also be putting on lots of sunblock and using sun protective gear like hats.
Did you know hiking can be a form of active meditation? While you are hiking, be mindful of your surroundings. Enjoy the desert flora and wildlife that live in abundance. Not only does hiking provide useful cardio and exercise, but it can also help you develop a stronger appreciation for nature and encourages mental clarity.
Phoenix Hiking Trails: Piestewa Peak | Camelbak Mountain | North Mountain & Shaw Butte | Papago Park
Kayaking on water can be very therapeutic. Not only is it a great outdoor workout that gets your blood flowing, but the very repetitive and symmetrical act of kayaking can provide benefits similar to meditation. Kayaking can be done alone, or in pairs of 2 depending on the size of the kayak. Renting a kayak can be relatively inexpensive.
Places to Kayak near Phoenix: Tempe Town Lake | Salt River Kayaking | Lake Pleasant
Fishing may not be thought of as an ideal activity for the adrenaline-seeking daredevil, but it is a common hobby that can be picked up with some research and practice. To start, per state law any individual over the age of 10 needs a valid fishing or combination license to fish in public waters in Arizona. Licenses must be renewed every year unless you are interested in purchasing a one-day fishing pass.
Best Places to Fish near Phoenix: Chaparral Lake | Desert Breeze Lake | Tempe Town Lake | Cesar Chavez Park (Alford Lake) | Encanto Park
4. Salt River Tubing
If you’ve never heard of tubing before, allow us to explain this fun recreational water activity! One can spend their afternoon floating gently down the Salt River, even enjoying a moving picnic that travels along with you. While tubing is not exactly a sport, it is certainly a relaxing outdoor experience. Best of all, it is very inexpensive to rent a tube and is easily accessible from Phoenix.
Canyoneering is a combination of several activities such as swimming and climbing with the main purpose of traveling through a canyon. It is definitely a more physically intensive activity than say, river tubing, and requires the help of a trained guide who has experience helping others navigate through a canyon.
Phoenix has multiple local canyoneering companies who can help coordinate with transportation and gear, and can better assess your physical skill to see how feasible canyoneering would be. If you are seeking an adventure, looking into canyoneering would be an excellent place to start.
6. Equine Therapy
Did you know that equine therapy is commonly used by addiction treatment centers as an integral part of the recovery process? Learning how to interact and move with your horse can help teach you more about yourself, and identify patterns of behavior. In addition to its mental health benefits, it also encourages activity and exercise. If you are interested in equine therapy, research licensed equine
therapists near you as opposed to just horseback riding lessons. The former will be able to guide and teach you ways of using horseback riding to aid in your mental health, whereas the latter will likely be more focused on the technical aspects of horseback riding without necessarily using it as therapy.
If you aren’t already in the cycling scene, you may be surprised to learn that Phoenix has a huge cycling community! Because the city and its surrounding areas enjoy copious amounts of land and trails, and the abundance of good weather, Phoenix is extremely well-suited for someone interested in both mountain biking and road cycling.
The health benefits of cycling are greater mobility, balance, muscle training, improved cardio, and potentially weight loss. Mentally, cycling can improve one’s self-confidence! Another unexpected benefit of taking up cycling is that it is good for the environment and your pocketbook by saving gas.
8. Bird Watching
Bird watching is a quirky pastime that almost anybody can pick up! It can even be combined with other outdoor activities, such as hiking or cycling. While it is not an official experiential therapy like how equine therapy is, it can certainly provide some relaxation and other mental health benefits.
Luckily for aspiring birders, Arizona is a state flowing with different species of wildlife; in particular, many varieties of birds are also local Phoenix residents! You can easily begin your birdwatching journey by going on publicly accessible hiking trails. Alternatively, you can recruit the help of a guide by signing up for group birdwatching excursions.
Bird Watching Opportunities in Phoenix: Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden | Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area | Phoenix Zoo | Piestewa Peak
9. Rock Climbing
Not to be confused with canyoneering (although there is certainly some overlap!), rock climbing can be done at a rock climbing gym or in the great outdoors. There is definitely a learning curve, so beginner rock climbers should take their time making sure they are improving their technical skills and fitness levels before embarking on harder levels.
Before going to climbing routes in Arizona, we recommend you look for indoor rock climbing gyms near you to start. Then, as you become more comfortable with rock climbing, you will build your skill up enough to start outdoor rock climbing, getting better over time. There is also an abundance of rock climbing schools or rock climbing tours that you can look into attending!
Yoga is certainly a powerful holistic method for recovery. Not only do the principles of yoga encourage mindfulness, the art of patience and meditation, but the physical benefits of yoga include flexibility, strength, and balance. Furthermore, yoga is commonly used as a form of therapy to treat symptoms of chronic pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and fatigue.
The yoga community in Phoenix is certainly growing, with many yoga studios available offering trial passes to beginners. If joining a yoga studio isn’t within your budget, one can easily practice yoga at home or at a local park. There are a number of free resources for yoga on the Internet, ranging from beginner level poses to more advanced techniques.
If you are finding yourself stressed out, consider implementing yoga in your daily routine.