Hiking is considered to be one of the simplest workouts to pick up since what you need is an outdoor space with the best pair of shoes and an incline. There is nothing better than getting fresh air after the coldest days of winter. But, did you know that there are some health benefits you can enjoy from hiking?
Hiking has benefits for both mental and physical health and it’s a good option for athletes who want cross training. Whether you are going out for a leisurely and easy hike or taking on challenging trail run, you will reap the perks that hiking has to provide.
Improves Mental Health
Based on the recent research, people who live in the cities have high levels of anxiety, depression, and some mental illnesses than people who are living outside the urban areas. In a study that was published in year 2015, it was found that walking in tree-lined green space does not only improved one’s mental health, but also reduced activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex of the participants. Subgenual prefrontal cortex is an area that’s associated with rumination that can be precursor to depression. It was compared to the control group who walked the same time in urban places and didn’t experience significant enhancements in their mental health. Aside from that, further research has shown that the typical hiking reduces stress and may even help enhance one’s memory. While walking in various environments, taking hikes on a mountain will take such advantages to the next level.
Boosts Physical Health
Other than improved mental health, hiking can be good for physical health. One of the best benefits is enhanced cardiovascular fitness. An incline associated with hiking is part of what makes this so great. The better the incline, the more you will get the blood pumping. Due to improved cardiovascular fitness, you will enjoy reduced risk of stroke, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and coronary heart disease.
Experts from American Heart Association recommend a total of150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise weekly or seventy-five minutes of vigorous cardiovascular exercise every week. This breaks down to thirty minutes daily, five days weekly of moderate exercise that studies suggest may be done in an interval as short as ten minutes. With an hour-long bike every weekend, you will be well on your way to meet such recommendations.
Improved Muscle Fitness
Not only hiking will get your heart beat going and help enhance your cardiovascular fitness, it is also the best way to boost your muscular fitness. Hiking is a good weight-bearing exercise and through every step up incline, you will be able to engage some of the biggest muscles in the body, which include calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Each time you raise your bodyweight along the trail, such muscles fuel into action. If you have been on the steep hike, you will know it is not all about uphill either. Controlling the momentum of the body on downhill is in big part thanks to the quads. They help brace you once you move downhill, so you will not go tumbling.
Since you would want to stay energized and hydrated, if hike is longer than a few miles, you will be carrying some kind of backpack with the supplies. For some safety reasons, it is a great idea to have first aid kit as well as basic supplies always no matter what the length of the hike is.
Tones Your Body
Walking on a regular basis may get your butt in good shape, yet taking sharp inclines, utilizing trekking poles for propelling you forward and clambering rocks provides your body a good workout. You are going to work your body, particularly your lower body. If you are carrying a pack, you will challenge the endurance and strength of your upper body parts.
Allows You to Take Control of Your Workout
Through hiking, you may chart your course. You may set your own distance and pace. Whether you decide for an afternoon hike, long distance experience, or weekends in the woods, you are not listening to the bossy fitness trainer that tells you to work much harder.
Increases One’s Creativity
According to research, spending more time outdoors will boost your creative problem-solving skills and attention spans by fifty percent. The study’s authors point out that the results might have something to do with unplugging from the technology as they spend time outside. The researchers of the Graduate School of Education of Stanford University found that walking will get one’s creative juices flowing more than sitting.
Improves Your Social Relationships
Hikers always advise using a buddy system. Regular meet-up every weekend or long distance trek will assist you create bonds while shaping up. In addition to that, interaction with the bigger hiking community actually encourages you to consider workouts as a lifestyle, instead of a chore, that would make you to stick with it for long haul.
Hiking Can Heal You
Several researches recommend that the physical health benefits of hiking basically extend far beyond improving your cardiovascular health and may help cancer patients fully recover. There was a study published and was found that long hiking trips can enhance antioxidative capacity that fights off the diseases in oncological patients’ blood. There was also another study that showed breast cancer survivors who have exercised regularly believed that any physical activities complemented their full recovery from the cancer treatments.
Low Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
Regular hiking reduces cholesterol and blood pressure, minimizing the danger of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease for people who are at high risk. As a matter of fact, downhill hiking is 2 times much effective in getting rid of blood sugar and enhancing tolerance on glucose.
The Bottom Line
No matter what the difficulty of the hike or physical ability you are taking, always be ready for emergencies. If you want to reap all of the health benefits of hiking, bring a first aid kit and some basic supplies, especially for longer hikes. With this, you will be able to enjoy trails, get in good workout, and connect with nature.