Who doesn’t like to be healthy and fit? Unless you are a fitness fanatic who devotes substantial time and effort to take care of your health, this is for you. For laymen, that sort of lifestyle may often seem a luxury, frivolous or even a waste. But there’s always scope for improvement, right? The solution is right before you! Benefits of Hiking, The great outdoors!
Outdoor activities bring a lot of benefits for both body and mind. Not to mention, they are quite inexpensive and easy to do! Let us start off with something simple: Walking! Or depending on the terrain, hiking! The more picturesque and varied the landscape, the better.
Why Hike? – Benefits of Hiking
Hiking may seem dull and boring to some, but done right, it can offer much more variety than other forms of physical exercises. Hiking outdoors is a low effort, easy to do activity that most of us can easily commit to. And you might find yourself getting hooked in a short time, looking forward to your next outing!
Some of us might feel self conscious or even embarrassed of exercising in a gym or in the open when first starting out. But hiking on a trail at your own pace (Benefits of Hiking) , you can only come across others of the same ilk.
Starting Off – Benefits of Hiking
Start off slow, maybe a half hour long stroll around the friendly neighborhood park? As your affinity for outdoors grows, so will your skills, ability and appetite to go on longer hikes and more distant trips. Over time, you will build a cozy relationship with nature and the wild that can truly transform your life for the better.
If walking by yourself seems boring, hiking can also be as social as you want it to be. Getting others involved can also make it more interesting while helping you adhere to your commitment. Hiking with your partner or family can result in some quality bonding time or if done with an old friend can help you relive the good old times. (Benefits of Hiking)
Here’s a look at some of the health benefits of hiking in the great wide open.
Hiking exercises and strengthens major muscles in the lower body and the back. While walking uphill involves the glutes, hamstrings, quads and the calves; a sprint downhill will stress on the ankles, hips and the core. If you choose to sling on a moderate to heavy backpack, the shoulder and back muscles also get involved and strengthened in the bargain. The impact can vary with the terrain and also, the seasons.
Hiking is a great way to (almost) everyone’s ultimate goal: losing weight. The amount of fat burned in a hike depends on several factors like age, gender, body weight and intensity of the hike. Even if you’re just a beginner, light intensity hiking can result in burning a number of calories. Gradual weight loss in a pleasant manner and surroundings is any day far better than sweaty workouts in any gym.
Good for the Bones
Bone density is an important factor in preventing broken bones and the reducing risk of osteoporosis. As hiking is a weight-bearing exercise, your bones and muscles of the lower body have to work hard. This is crucial in maintaining or even building bone density, which deteriorates with age.
For hiking to effectively increase bone density, it needs to be performed at a moderate to high-level of intensity. Brisk walking or hiking regularly can help improve bone density by strengthening the bone tissue. For instance, the impact of hiking up a steep trail can be more beneficial in building bone density than strolling along a flat trail.
An added bonus of the outdoors is all the free Vitamin D you gain from exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is very essential in calcium absorption, which is necessary for bone health.
Matters of the Heart
Hiking can do wonders for your heart, i.e (cardiovascular) health wise. Even a short hiking session can result in increased heart rate which in turn helps improve aerobic fitness and endurance. With time, one’s body will adjust to these new levels of fitness empowering you to undertake longer, faster, and harder trips without making you tired or feel out of breath.
Hiking also results in improved fitness measures like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol. Regular moderate physical activity like hiking can significantly lower ‘bad’ cholesterol, improve glucose tolerance and reduce hypertension over time.
Memory & Co-Ordination
While walking, blood circulation increases, carrying with it oxygen and important nutrients to all parts of the body, including the brain. All this increased blood flow benefits the brain and neurons in charge of memory and cognitive function. No wonder that older people who do moderate exercise of some sort have improved memory and physical well being compared to those who don’t.
Hiking can be a great stress reliever and also help calm the mind.Taking effort for some “me-time” after a hectic week at work can deliver substantial benefits. Time spent outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle, the disturbance and diversions caused by modern tech that keeps you always connected can be quite a relaxing (and rewarding) experience!
Hiking outdoors requires us to be always aware of our surroundings and always think quickly on our feet! This mindfulness and focus can do wonders for our mind, a workout for our thinking process, but in a relaxed and pleasant way. Another plus compared to mindless and repetitive workout sessions.
Most of us have wonderful nature spots within driving distance, and it’s up to us to discover these places and devote some quality time hiking there with just yourself or your close ones. And remember, campsites can be very open and friendly places to meet up with new people. It can also be about picnics or barbeques!
Hiking always has something for everybody, no matter how old or healthy you are. Within no time, you may well find yourself hooked and also encouraging others to go out and enjoy the outdoors more often!