Hiking outdoors has got a lot of benefits including the pleasant natural views, fresh air, the smells and the sounds of the nature; and above all, the incredible health benefits which includes the physical as well as the mental health benefits. Hiking is a powerful cardio workout which can be a great workout if you are looking to reduce weight, improve stability and balance, strengthen your core, or reduce the risk of heart disease, or reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety and improve the mental health conditions. Let us discover more of the health benefits of hiking in the following array of the article.
Health Benefits Of Hiking:
Physical Health Benefits Of Hiking:
It Is A Great Core Workout:
One of the best things to know about hiking is it is a wonderful core workout that you can perform to improve your cardiovascular fitness, just like brisk walk. It forces your heart to work harder. Hiking is one of the best natural ways to engage your core muscles in the torso and also to improve your balance skills.
In case you have any problem with your vision or stability, make use of trekking poles as it offers you an added security level on the uneven terrain.
Hiking Improves Your Overall Fitness And Builds Muscles:
One more health benefits of hiking is, that it improves ones overall fitness and build muscles. It is well known that exercise is important for our overall health and hiking is a great cardiovascular activity that helps in offering benefits to our fitness level, just like cycling or running. A good hike stimulates the muscles like hamstrings, quadriceps, and the lower leg muscles including the hip muscles. When one does hiking along with a backpack, it becomes a great booster for improving core strength. Moreover, walking with backpack is also important in building bone density.
Hiking Lowers Blood Pressure And Lowers The Risk Of Heart Disease:
Another great thing about hiking is that it helps in lowering blood pressure and also lowering the risk of heart diseases.
Research done by the CDC has shown that walking for 60 minutes per day, for 5 days in a week, can actually reduce the risk of an individual experiencing a heart stroke to half. (1) Walking or the aerobic activity even strengthens the heart and offers it an excellent boost to the levels of good cholesterol or the HDL and lowers the levels of bad cholesterol or the LDL and the triglycerides.
According to the CDC it was explained that people who engage themselves with cardiovascular activities, such as hiking are 50% less likely to experience heart problems as compared to those who do not perform any cardiovascular activity or exercise.
It Helps In Weight Loss:
Now, guess what else could be a better health benefit of hiking than the weight loss? Yes! Hiking does wonders in reducing weight. It can burn between 440 to 550 calories per hour and this is a lot! So, if you are weighing an average of 160lbs, and you did 3 hours of hiking, you are able to burn around 1200 calories and that is more than half of the daily recommended intake for an average adult. Now, hiking twice in a week can really do the magic for you in burning calories and reducing weight.
So, if you are looking to lose some extra pounds from your body you definitely need to try hiking.
It Can Help In The Healing Of Your Body:
Hiking has got one more wonderful health benefit. It helps in the body healing. There are some evidences that hiking can actually help our body to recover after severe health conditions like cancer. Hiking might improve the anti-oxidative ability in the patients suffering from cancer. Moreover, hiking also offers psychological health benefits to the cancer patients and the patients can feel well and fit for recovery when they go for a hiking.
Mental Health Benefits Of Hiking:
Just like physical health benefits, hiking also provide us mental health benefits too. It is a great exercise for the mind and the soul and it improves several mental health conditions like stress, and anxiety and also helps in making a person more creative.
Research has found that spending time outdoors can increase our ability to concentrate, focus, our attention spans, and also improves problem solving abilities by about 50%; and hiking is a great outdoor exercise. Moreover, it also offers a chance to receive fresh air, lots of Vitamin D from the sunlight, and also help us explore the nature and have some real amazing experience.
Let us look at some of the best mental health benefits of hiking in the following section.
It Offers Natural Stress Relief:
Hiking is a great stress reliever and offers natural stress relief. Spending time with nature outside has got tremendous power to relieve unwanted stress. There are a lot of studies that show that spending time with nature, greens, forest, and even urban parks might also ease the stress levels of people. In addition, hiking offers a kind of mental peace too.
One must be clear that stress contribute to an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. So, when stress levels are lowered, the chances of getting blood pressure and heart diseases also reduce.
Hiking Improves Overall Mental Health:
One more important mental health benefits of hiking is that it enhances our overall mental health. There is a lot of evidence that show hiking actively improves the overall mental health of a person.
Stress, depression, anxiety, and several other mental health difficulties, are quite prominent in recent times. It is also common for us to struggle with depression and other mental health condition in these times. However, research has found that even a walk in nature for 90 minutes can have a great effect on our brain and the way we actually feel.
So, hiking can actually help us feel good, change the way in which our brain works, and can get our focus away from repetitive negative thought.
It Makes You Happier:
Hiking makes you happier. According to a study it was found that in most extreme cases of patients with high-risk suicide, a hiking resulted to a drastic reduction in their feelings of hopelessness. (2)
Hiking does not actually make you happier but it makes you quite less frustrated. However, it is true that hiking can actually make you feel happy when you are spending outdoors in the nature’s beauty and makes you more self-centered.
It Helps You Unplug:
We all spend a lot of time in the digital world, and going on a hiking actually helps us to unplug! It reduces the time we spend over the screens. It is found that average American adults are spending 4 hours per day on their phones, while children in the age of 8 years spend 48 minutes over the mobile screens ever day. And our obsession with the digital world or the mobile phones, or smart phones have reduced the time we actually spend with our friends.
Now, hiking in modern times can actually let us a chance to unplug, to leave the digital media and spend time with nature, with friends when we take them along with us while mountain hiking, and can actually help us reconnect with the things that actually matter in life.
Fitness-Boosting Strategies To Know Before You Proceed On For A Hiking Workout:
It is important to be aware of the following fitness-boosting strategies before you proceed on for a hiking workout.
You must always start slow while hiking. It is always good to have a short and local hike if you are a beginner. Slowly and gradually work up to the trails with hills or uneven terrain.
Make Use Of Poles:
Dig in to the ground and propel yourself forward while hiking. Doing this pushes the muscles of your upper body to work much harder and offers you a potential cardio workout.
Head For The Hills:
You then need to head on slowly for the small hills. Even a small hill can intensify the heart rate and can burn extra calories.
Bump It Up:
Once you are familiar with the hiking workout, go for uneven terrain as it works on your muscles and also improves your balance and stability.
Weigh Yourself Down:
You need to stock your back pack with some extra weight as it enhances your chances of calorie burn and also strengthens the lower back muscles.
Safety Tips For Hiking:
Take A Friend:
It is always good to take a friend along with you while hiking, especially if you are going for the first time or if you are unfamiliar with the trails. You can navigate well and can get assistance if you have a friend along with you while on a hike.
Know Well Before You Go On A Hike:
Make sure you are familiar with the trial map. Check the weather condition and also check your clothing and pack your bag as per the weather conditions. You must also make a note to follow the marked paths and the trails.
Well, we are now aware of the health benefits of hiking. It not only benefits our physical health but also improves our mental health. Moreover, it is one of the most fulfilling natural things that we can do to improve our overall well being; and when hiking is done along with friends or our loved ones; we just increase our social well being too. So why not start hiking and experience it wonderful health benefits?
NOTE: Make sure you follow the safety tips while going for hiking.