The warm sun rays hitting your face, the sound of the wind gushing through the trees, and the soft crackles of dry leaves under your shoes. Do these experiences sound like something you desire? While such incidents are enjoyable to have, they’re also good for your health. We live in a fast-paced world full of activities and busy schedules. We’re so engaged with the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we sometimes forget one crucial element: MOTHER NATURE! And what other best way to experience what nature offers than hiking.
Hiking is shown to have many health benefits. These benefits range from physical exercise to mental or emotional relief that comes from being in nature. Here is what health experts are saying about the benefits of hiking.
1. Burn those Calories!
We’re living in the age of fitness celebrity models on Instagram and YouTube, parading their gorgeous bodies to us every day. And they seem to be preaching only one gospel: “Burn those calories!” But did you know hiking can help you burn those extra calories? With the use of hiking and trekking poles, you can start cutting down some weight. Generally, your body uses calories to support normal body functions and to fuel it during physical activities. Any physical movement can result in the body using its stored energy. This means the unique nature of hiking can result in calorie burn than other forms of exercise.
2. Best Stress-Buster
Exercising helps alleviate stress and anxiety. However, there’s a more significant benefit when you combine physical exercises with hiking. So, what sets hiking apart from other forms of exercise? You guessed it right: the natural outdoor setting. Even though physical activities such as backpacking also rely on nature, they require more time and commitment to learning. However, a simple hike is easily accessible to many people and doesn’t require any expensive gear to start. What’s more, hiking can happen almost anywhere – from the local park to a hill trail or public garden – and still gives you the bouts of freshness mother nature has to offer.
3. Boost Muscular Fitness
A growing body of research shows that hiking gets your heart rate going up and improves your cardiovascular fitness. What’s more, it’s a great way to boost muscular fitness. Hiking is known to be a weight-bearing exercise. This means that you keep your core muscles engaged with each step up an incline, such as quads, hamstrings, or glutes. Each time you increase your distance along a particular trail, those muscles go into action. If you’ve been on a steep hike, you understand it isn’t all about the uphill. Generally, controlling your body downhill or uphill is thanks partly to your quads and hamstrings.
4. Hiking is Associated with Longevity
So, you want to live 90 or 100? While other factors such as diet and lifestyle change significantly impact this, exercise is a critical factor. This is where hiking as a form of physical activity steps in. Research shows that we need at least seven hours of physical activity every week to stay healthy. This range also marks the new benchmark for living a long and happy life. Even though seven hours is a lot, you can break the hours into manageable chunks every day. Start by working out every day for forty minutes and taking a walk for 20 minutes. This way, you can cover all the seven hours within 5- to -6 days. So, get out there and start walking!
5. Increased Endurance
According to research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, hitting a trail that exceeds 4,000 feet helps your body adapt to less oxygen. This also explains why professional runners choose to exercise in high-altitude areas. Generally, they tend to perform better than their counterparts who practice at sea level. The same ideology applies to hikers: hiking at high elevations helps your body learn how to adapt to less oxygen. This will help you deal with lower-elevation trails.
6. Improves Creativity
Nature walks allow your mind to wander freely in creative directions. Most people in the creative space, such as arts and music, use nature walks to develop new ideas. Today, science is trying to make a connection between creativity and being in nature. So, if you want to have that million-dollar idea bubbling up from some unconscious place in your brain, go hiking.
Beyond the tips above, hiking is the best way to move your body and keep blood flowing in the body. Additionally, hiking benefits our planet indirectly. How? When we’re more exposed to nature, we can take the appropriate measures to safeguard it. Research shows that when we’re more exposed to nature, we are more likely to protect it. So, grab your backpack and a friend, and head out on the trail. And finally, don’t forget to carry some water!