It’s always a good idea to step outdoors and breathe a cusp of fresh air! When they say hiking, it only means stepping out in nature and moving from point A to point B while having a slightly high level of heart rate. Hiking is actually an excellent way to step out and experience your body while aligning with the beauty of nature. Whether you are hiking through mountains, forests, or just a local park, there are many benefits of hiking that can improve your physical and mental well-being.
It hardly matters if you are a rookie hiker or someone who has been conquering trails like a pro. And if you haven’t incorporated hiking into your lifestyle yet, now is the time! Hiking is for all and if you are a health freak just like us, this blog is about you! So keep reading the blog as we discuss some health benefits of hiking, both – physical and mental.
|Table Of Content|
|1. Physical Health Benefits of Hiking|
|2. Mental Health Benefits Of Hiking|
|3. Social Health Benefits Of Hiking|
|4. Choosing the Right Hiking Shoes|
Physical Health Benefits of Hiking
Helps Lose Weight
It’s not rocket science that you are bound to lose a few kilos when you head out for a hike. Physical activity paired with a calorie deficit in your diet can woo you with some amazing results (literally). Asking yourself if hiking is good for weight loss, the answer is a big yes! For a rookie hiker, even a significant push towards hiking can show gradual results. And if you are already into hiking, try to enhance the duration, intensity, or frequency. Our bodies are wired to burn calories while it requires energy. Hiking is one such activity that helps us burn calories while losing quite a bit of weight without losing the muscles. Let’s not forget the scenic views we get to witness while on a hike!
Enhances Cardiac Health
By 2035, the American Heart Association projects that more than 130 million U.S. adults will have some type of heart disease. Your cardiac health has a lot to do with your physical activity as well as your food intake. So if you are someone who loves delving into heavy meals, you need to balance your physical exertion accordingly. Hiking helps you regulate your cardiac health by enhancing the overall heartbeat.
Remember, your heart is a muscle like any other muscle in your body. Therefore, it needs to be “worked out,” just like your biceps, to get strong. Additionally, hiking is also helpful in lowering your blood pressure. As said by Dr. Kampert, “Research has consistently demonstrated that exercise is as effective as a full dose of antihypertensive medication at lowering blood pressure. In fact, he has also stated that regular bouts of activities like hiking can help regulate insulin levels to combat diabetes in individuals.
Helps Build Muscles
Hiking has some significant benefits in terms of building muscles, especially the leg muscles! Once you start hiking regularly, you will notice good stability in your muscles as it lets you balance your legs and core. Moreover, it also strengthens your arms and back if you use trekking poles or carry a pack. What’s more? It is a great way to chisel your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves while you are walking uphill. And strengthen your ankles, core, and hips while hiking downhill. Talk about body workouts and ditching the gym for some fresh air!
Elevates Bone Density & Improves Arthritis
Research states that after the age of 40, we lose about 1% of our bone density yearly! Hiking helps you elevate your bone density, especially when wearing a backpack, as it also loads your spine. It also offers a low-impact form of exercise that is easier on your joints than activities like running or jumping. This makes it a great option for people with arthritis or those who are recovering from an injury. Racing your heart rate without putting too much stress on your joints is one way to deal with arthritis. In addition, hiking keeps your muscles engaged and activated, reducing the risk of arthritis and the pain and stiffness caused by arthritis.
Mental Health Benefits Of Hiking
Hiking Reduces Stress & Anxiety
In addition to the physical benefits, hiking can also have a positive impact on your mental health. Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that people who spent time in nature had lower levels of cortisol (stress hormones) and reported feeling more relaxed and refreshed.
Improves Memory & Brain Function
Hiking oxygenates your heart and keeps your body calmer, which helps you calm your anxiety and lower your stress. Hiking benefits for the body and mind are many. Because it includes navigating through trails, your brain gets worked up well. Having to deal with branches that overhang your path, hidden obstacles, slippery dirt or patches of mud, reading trail markers, and seeing wild animals – all these things require evaluating situations and adjusting. Resultantly, it improves your brain function and memory muscles.
Allows You Time To Re-think & Process
Besides many benefits of hiking in nature, several other benefits might help you limit your overthinking issues and help you become more stable and organized. The purpose of hiking, in the beginning, is usually to get your body moving, which releases endorphins (happy hormones) from your body. When you head out for a hike, you give your brain time to process all the information and de-clutter your thoughts. Hiking helps you gain that calm and composed behavior that eventually enables you to evaluate situations wisely and make decisions accordingly.
Improves Sleep & Relives Insomnia
Hiking in nature means you will begin slowly but gradually working up your muscles. Rigorous amounts of hiking or walking can help you not just lose calories but also exhausts you. As a result, you can sleep well. In a study, regular hiking has been proven to improve sleep quality and help establish a healthy sleep cycle. In scientific explanation, your body has increased melatonin levels when you spend time outdoors. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles.
Social Health Benefits Of Hiking
Boosts Your Self-esteem
Hiking can also provide a sense of accomplishment and boost your self-esteem. Completing a challenging hike can give you a sense of pride and accomplishment, which can improve your overall mood and well-being. Additionally, you become more confident in initiating conversations and believing in yourself once your self-esteem is boosted!
Unplug from Technology & Build Community
Did you know that an average American adult spends at least four hours a day on their mobile phone?
Hiking can provide an opportunity to unplug from technology and connect with nature. In our fast-paced world, it can be challenging to find time to disconnect and recharge. Hiking offers a chance to leave your phone behind, breathe in the fresh air, and appreciate the natural beauty around you.
Moreover, you get to meet strangers and share a lot of similar interests. So this is more like a community-building exercise to boost your social well-being and enjoy the feeling of belongingness.
Choosing the Right Hiking Shoes
If you’re considering taking up hiking, it’s essential to invest in a good pair of hiking shoes. The right pair of shoes can provide support and traction on uneven terrain, helping to prevent injuries.
When choosing hiking shoes, there are a few key factors to consider. First, consider the type of hiking you will be doing. If you are hiking on rugged terrain or carrying a heavy backpack, you will need a more durable and supportive shoe than if you were doing a casual day hike.
You should also consider the fit and comfort of the shoe. Look for a shoe that fits snugly but not too tight, with enough room in the toe box to allow your feet to move comfortably. It’s also important to try on shoes with the socks you plan to wear while hiking, as this can affect the fit.
In conclusion, hiking is a wonderful way to improve your physical and mental health. Whether you’re looking for a low-impact form of exercise, a way to de-stress and unplug, or a chance to connect with nature, hiking has something to offer. So, grab a pair of hiking shoes, hit the trails, and experience the many benefits of hiking for yourself!
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