The hike is often beneficial enough, but the hiking benefits are far more than most imagine! Hikers battle bruises, blisters, and bug bites for the sake of enjoying some quality time with nature and overcoming a challenge. But along with the ocean views and snow-capped mountain tops come an abundance of physical and mental perks.
Did you know that hiking is good for your health, too? Yes, it’s true, hiking benefits are surprisingly numerous.
Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can:
- Reduce your risk for lung, colon, breast, and endometrial cancers
- Lower your risk of stroke and heart disease
- Boost bone density, since it is a weight-bearing exercise
- Improve your blood pressure
- Improve your blood sugar levels
- Build strength in the muscles in your lower legs and hips, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
- Improve balance
- Strengthen your core
- Help control your weight- it burns up about 250 calories an hour, and through hiking people maintain their weight loss and continue to lose.
- Boost your mood and relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress
- Improve your sleep quality
Use these fitness-boosting strategies to get more out of your hiking.
- Start slow and work gradually. The best for beginners is to take a short, local hike. Gradually work up to trails with uneven terrain or hills.
- Use hiking poles. Pushing yourself forward and digging into the ground forces your upper body muscles to work harder and provides you a stronger cardio workout.
- Head for the hills. A small hill will burn extra calories and intensify your heart rate.
- Bump it up. While improving stability and balance, uneven terrain can strengthen your muscles.
- Weigh yourself down. Boost your day pack by stocking it with extra weight. It will strengthen your lower back muscles and boost your calorie burn by 10%-15%.
Here’s what hikers can teach us about hiking benefits and leading a healthier and happier life.
Hikers are creative
Research shows that hiking and spending time outdoors increases creative problem-solving skills and attention spans for 50%. It may be due to the sunshine, fresh air, trees, and unplugging from technology but the most of all it is due to walk and the activity.
Hikers are fit
Hiking is a perfect way to get a serious workout without pressuring too much on your joints. Trails are softer for the joints than concrete and asphalt. If you head for the hills, both the ups and downs have benefits but hiking downhill is far more effective at lowering blood sugars. Besides that hikers burn some serious calories, altitude itself is proven as a weight loss ally.
Hiking can even help cancer patients to recover. Long distance hiking trips improve the antioxidative capacity in the blood of oncological patients, which helps to fight off disease.
Hikers are happier
Hiking offers mental benefits. It allows people to connect with themselves and nature and brings a sense of well-being and peace. As studies show, hiking can help people with severe depression feel less depressed, hopeless, and suicidal. (1)
Safe Hiking Tips
Bring a friend. It’s best not to hike alone especially on remote or unfamiliar trails. A friend or group can help you to navigate or can help if you get hurt.
Go prepared. Check the trail map and the weather, and also dress and pack appropriately. Always follow marked trails and paths.