Keeping your body and mind healthy requires effort and dedication. Getting plenty of exercise and eating well are some of the key factors that influence your overall health. However, not many people are fond of sweating in the gym or going on restrictive diets. Luckily, there are some exercises each and every person can afford to do, among which hiking is undoubtedly the best one.
Hiking has immense stress relieving powers and it offers a vast number of health benefits. Moreover, it is something that everyone can do regardless of their age or fitness level, as long as they choose the right trail. So, get yourself a hiking guide and embark on a new adventure! We will help you focus on some of the biggest fitness, cardio and mental benefits it will bring you.
1. Prevents heart disease and improves blood pressure
The first and biggest benefit to mention is certainly that hiking helps prevent any heart-related disease. Hiking on a regular basis provides a great cardiovascular workout. It lowers triglyceride levels while raising high-density lipoprotein levels, which largely reduces the risks of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
When you are hiking, you are getting a complete aerobic workout that helps take some stress off your heart by reducing blood pressure. Experimental studies have shown that there is a beneficial relationship between hiking and hypertension, as physical exercise influences the reduction of blood pressure.
A study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division involved 33,060 runners and 15,045 hikers and they resulted in the same reductions in risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes over a period of 6 years.
So, if you are not so keen on jogging, hiking might be just the thing for you, as it is equally beneficial!
2. Improves your bone density
Taking a hike can help you prevent or fight arthritis and osteoporosis, as the added physical strain improves bone density. Losing your bone mass with age is inevitable and it can eventually lead to fractures due to falls. On the bright side, hiking provides sufficient movement that helps build up your bones and thus reducing the possibility of them breaking.
Through the aging process, bone loss exceeds bone rebuilding and it especially advances after menopause, because estrogen decreases in women’s bodies. Other factors which lead to bone loss are drinking, smoking and insufficient amounts of vitamin D and calcium.
No matter if don’t have any issues with your bones or you have been diagnosed with some bone-related disease, hiking will be valuable for you. It offers great help in both prevention and the treatment of such diseases. Although you won’t be needing any special preparations in terms of physical conditioning before a hike, be sure to stretch frequently.
3. Helps with weight issues
Regular hiking can help you keep your weight under control or even lose a few pounds if you are in need of that. Only one hour of hiking helps you burn about 500 calories. If you decide to hiking on a bigger level of incline, weight loss outcomes are even greater.
When it comes to solving weight issues, a lot of people prefer hiking to jogging, as it does not involve so much sweating and exhaustion and it has been proven that it doesn’t put as much stress on your leg joints.
Of course, there are some things to look out for while hiking. For example, make sure you are not deprived of water or food. Make sure you are well hydrated at all times and don’t starve yourself by any means.
It is natural that you will feel hungry during a hike, since your body is going through a lot of physical exercise, just be sure that you don’t eat large amounts of food. Instead, you should snack regularly on some healthy food to keep yourself nourished.
Hiking will undoubtedly help you lose weight, but don’t expect to get the desired results overnight. There are many factors that can influence how many pounds you will lose, such as your current weight, your diet and the hiking terrain that you choose. So, be realistic, determine your goals and start hiking on a regular basis to get the best possible results.
4. Fights stress and anxiety
Hiking is said to be a natural stress reliever. The beauty of it is that it offers you so many options to choose from when it comes to the location. Choosing a calm and serene place in nature can help you lift your spirits and forget about daily stress. Researches have shown that hiking is even an amazing additional therapy for people diagnosed with depression.
According to the study from the Landscape and Urban Planning journal, people who spend 50 minutes hiking in nature feel less anxiety compared to people surrounded by traffic. Just being exposed to beautiful landscapes and greenery can help mitigate stress and anxiety on a large scale.
Moreover, hiking boosts the production of endorphin, also known as the “happy hormone”, and it helps release adrenaline, which relieves anxiety and tension. Dr. Aaron L. Baggish from the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital said: “There’s a real sense of peace and composure you get from being outside and away from everything”.
5. Builds your core and your biggest muscle groups
Depending on what kind of a terrain you chose for your hiking activity, it can help you strengthen your core and the biggest muscle groups in the body, i.e. your legs and back. The steeper the terrain you choose, the less miles you will need to walk. Hiking on an uneven terrain engages the core muscles in the torso and as Dr. Baggish says: “You usually don’t get that type of lateral motion from walking on a treadmill or riding a bike”.
Hiking brings extra oxygen to your muscles, which strengthens them while increasing your energy and endurance.
To sum up, hiking is one of the most efficient ways to lose weight, improve your overall health along with your mood and energy and change your life. So if you’ve decided to put an emphasis on your fitness and health, start hiking and get in shape in no time!