23 Ways Hiking Makes You Healthier
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Benefits of Hiking
1. Good for Overall health
Hiking outdoors is having lots of perks like fresh air, nice views together with the sounds and smells of nature and so next time when somebody tells you to join a hike or go for a hike, thank them for taking care of your health. There are researches which have proved that spending quality time outdoors will boost creative problem-solving talents and attention spans by around 50%.
The researchers claim that the study outputs point to the fact that there are lots to do with unplugging from the tech world. This is because hiking offers various benefits for both mental and physical health and your well-being.
Hiking for an hour will help to burn 500 calories from your body based on the inclination level and the backpack weight which you are carrying at your back. Above all, getting in touch with the nature; leaving behind the chaos of technology and routine lives will let you connect with the nature. It gives you a good sense of well-being as well as peace.
2. Cardiovascular health
A good hiking will help your heart to stay healthy since it is the best cardiovascular exercise ever. The finest part of hiking is that it covers a whole continuum – right from a gentle walk on some flat terrain to mountain climbing routes. It makes your heart pump more amount of blood, thus satisfying the demand for the oxygen supply while hiking.
Gentle or brisk walking movements is one of the good ways in which you can increase your cardiovascular fitness, and this is best when your trails are filled with some hills as it helps to exert a force on your heart for working harder. On the other hand, hiking on an uneven terrain will give you a natural way to engane the core muscles. This will also improve your balance skills. Hiking is the best and the strongest cardio workout which helps to reduce the risk of heart disease along with boosting your bone density as walking is considered as a powerful weight-bearing exercise.
Hiking is considered as the best and the most powerful cardio exercise which can very well bring down the risks of heart disease, improves the blood sugar levels, blood pressure levels and balance, increase bone density, build strength on the muscles in the hips and lower legs, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps, strengthen your core, helps to manage your weight and above all boost your mood and gives you a positive feeling.
3.Hiking Normalize High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is one of the silent killers as the signs and symptoms are not usually detectable and when left unnoticed, it can even lead to stroke, heart attack or some other serious issues. It is common that high levels of stress result in increased blood pressure. So anything which helps to mitigate stress will help you to stay and live healthily. In this phase, the hiking benefits are anecdotal, and the outdoor enthusiasts agree to this fact.
This is the only real sense of composure and peace which you obtain while trekking outside, away from your busy techie life. Experts are of the opinion that if you are at the age of 35 or above and is being inactive for the past few years or you already have high blood pressure condition, then check with your healthcare provider and hike around. This is a great way to start with your workout plans. Begin with easy hikes and then move on with steeper ones which give more work for your legs.
It is scientifically proven that physical activities will lower your blood pressure levels. Hiking helps to control your blood pressure. It is claimed that both the rates of diastolic as well as systolic hypertension were lowered extensively in women who participated in light, moderate and heavy physical activities than with sedentary women.
4. Hiking Helps People with Type 2 Diabetes
The best way to kick start something new is to begin slowly, set the goals and then stay motivated yourself. If you are not having the habit of walking, start with walking for 10 minute per day and next week for twenty minutes and gradually increase the timing. If you are used to it, then it is time to go for hiking as it gives you more fun along with making you healthier.
There are many studies which support the statement that hiking will lower the chances of getting type 2 diabetes. The study proves that engaging in physical activities for a minimum of once in a week and a dynamic physical activity just once a week will lower the chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
Reducing weight is one of the key factors which every type 2 diabetic patient should focus on. Ensure that you are in good shape and you know well how to stretch and start with hiking. While planning the trip, confirm that there will be someone along with you who knows about your diabetic conditions and the low blood sugar levels or the insulin reactions. It would be great if they are aware of the workout plans which can improve our overall health and lower the risk of getting disorders such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.
Physical activities and workouts are having direct and long-term effects on your health. Above all, engaging yourself in regular physical activities will boost up the quality of your life. Keep in mind that a minimum of 30 minutes walking per day will help you to stay away from type 2 conditions.
5. Lower Risk of Colon and Breast Cancer and Possibly Lung and Endometrial Cancer
Hiking around is proved to have many health benefits. There are certain studies which proved that hiking can even lower the chances of getting breast and colon cancer and also reduces the possibility of the occurrence of lung and endometrial cancer. 30 minutes of slow or fast aerobic activities for 3 to 5 times in a week will reduce the chance of getting breast cancer by around 30% to 40%. Research has claimed that many forms of cancer can be cut from their risk of dying from those disorders by around 40% by just walking one mile per day.
When considering cancer patients, physical activities are not just meant for lowering the chances of dying or the recurrence rate, but it could also help to control the distressing side effects which are occurred as a part of the treatment like anxiety, swelling or fatigue. Performing around 6 hours of moderate workouts in a week will lower the risk of dying from this condition. Several studies conducted by JAMA prove that those patients with a good rate of physical activities can lower the risk of breast as well as colon cancer.
6. Lower Risk of Early Death
If you are not certain regarding being active or increasing your physical activity levels since you are fearful of getting hurt, then you don’t have to worry anymore. Moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking is safe for the majority of the people. Research has proved that those people who have been engaged in physical activities for around 7 hours a week are having 40 % less chance of dying early.
This means that vigorous activity is not required and hence moderate level of activities are enough for staying healthy. So initially plan your hike in moderate intensity. If you are having some chronic health conditions such as heart disease, arthritis or diabetes, then check with your health practitioner to know if you need to limit the exercise patterns due to the condition. Work with your healthcare provider and come up with some workout plans which will match with your abilities.
Stroke and heart disorders are the two most major causes of death reported so far. Following the right guidelines and 150 minutes (a week) of moderate physical activity may lower the risk for these diseases. In addition to these, regular physical activities will lower your blood pressure levels along with improving the levels of cholesterol in your body.
7. Cleanse Your Lungs
Air is one of the most important elements which are required for sustaining life. Your health of both mind and body greatly depends on the amount of fresh air which you inhale. In this modern world, people forget to think about the significance of spending quality time outside and underrate the health benefits of being in fresh air. Hiking is usually done away from the busy city life and hence you will be bounded by air which is pollution free. Don't forget to take your Hiking Binoculars for observing birds. Inhaling clean and fresh air will aid in cleaning your lungs. This, in turn, will help to circulate more amount of oxygen into the cells, thus improving the cleansing action of lungs.
While inhaling and exhaling, you will be releasing few amounts of airborne toxins from the body. This increased level of oxygen within the body will help to provide more energy for performing various actions which you need to carry out. In fact, clean air is also required for creating a strong immune system. The white blood cells in the body need more amount of oxygen for the process of destroying germs, bacteria as well as viruses. All these things point to the need of enough oxygen for the proper function and working of the body.
8. Hiking Strengthen Your Muscles
Hiking is the best workout plan for burning your calories and also for building up your muscles. You can even forget about the thing that you are technically working out. Do you know which muscles are engaged during hiking?
Hiking simultaneously helps you to develop multiple elements of fitness, mostly cardiovascular health as well as strength, above all your lower body.
Hiking on mountain sides or on up hills is really hard work and it helps to engage several muscle groups in tandem along with burning calories and boosting up your aerobic threshold. The muscles which are used strenuously may include glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, lower back, obliques, ankle and knee complex and inside and outside thigh. If you wanted to burn more calories and wish to involve the upper part of the body, then think about walking with your hiking poles.
Apart from this, the muscle-strengthening activities will give you more benefits which any other aerobic activity won’t provide. Muscular fitness, as well as better bone strength, are the two major benefits which are involved in muscle-strengthening activities. In addition to this, it also aids in maintaining muscle mass while you are on a weight loss program.
9. Increase Your Endurance
Hiking is always an endurance activity which helps to improve the quality of your life. There is no rocket science to stay healthy. To get the fitness level, you wish to, you need to plan every day and work out in the best way you can. This way you won’t even feel overwhelmed. Endurance is just the ticket. You need endurance which goes above a daylong strength. You require that toughness for performing all the activities which you have planned for the day. Make use of the guidelines and stick to it.
For training, give 6 to 10 weeks’ time and then slowly increase the staying power by increasing the overall duration of the cardiovascular exercises. Initially, you can start with 30 to 50 minutes and then make it 75 gradually. Do it for 3 to 4 sessions in a week at the intensities in which you can and then put yourself into a marathon session. You can hike in a more forceful pace using poles and a lightweight backpack on some hilly terrain. While packing lightweight, never avoid your hiking rain jacket, backpack rain cover and waterproof pants. Take breaks in between and don’t forget to fuel up with some sandwiches or energy bars or sports drinks.
10. Relief from Back Pain - Strengthen Your Core
Carrying a hiking backpack on an uphill terrain or uneven one will help to make your muscles work harder for balancing the body. This, in turn, will help to build stronger core muscles. Thus, a strengthened muscle will give you relief from the back pain. Majority of the people are suffering from back pain, whether it is lower back or upper back pain, and this is mainly due to weak abdominal muscles. Building up strong muscles will help you to prevent the irritating back pain by lessening the chances of back injuries as well as educating you with the right spinal alignment.
Just like vigorous walking, hiking is equally important for improving your cardiovascular fitness, especially if your route includes hills and this, in turn, will exert more pressure, thus making your heart work more. On the other hand, hiking on some uneven surface will also offer you a natural way of engaging the core muscles and to hone the balance skills.
Always keep in mind that the core is in the middle of the body and hence it should be strong enough for supporting the overall weight of your body. Nevertheless, if you are having any issues related to stability or vision, then try using trekking poles or walking poles which can give you a level of security on any uneven terrain. While moving through a grass or dirt, use poles which are having a spiked metal tip. Insert the poles right on your front while you walk to take slight pressure off the knee joints.
11. Increases Your Bone Density
Physical recreations like hiking and walking contribute a lot to the bone formation and also involves in strengthening the muscles which support the bones. Even though genetic elements are playing a vital role in the determining the bone mass, there are certain controllable lifestyle components like physical activity and diet which makes a lot of changes between a strong and a frail skelton. Some of the recent studies have proved that taking part in physical activities will benefit people of all ages and will even help in fighting against osteoporosis. Since hiking exerts more pressure on your bones, it will encourage healthy bone structure along with lowering the risks of osteoporosis.
Hiking is useful to your body, mind, and soul. It helps you in attaining weight loss, muscle development, supporting as well as boosting your bone density. Above all, it helps to lessen the chance of getting dangerous diseases too. To hike around, you need strong muscles and bone and for this, you need mindful eating and proper exercise. Since there are a lot of nutrients required for the bone health, it is highly important that you should eat a well-balanced diet which contains wide food varieties including veggies, low-fat dairy, grains, calcium-rich foods, fruits and beans or meat every day.
12. Provides Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is the most important element for maintaining good bone strength since it deals with the utilization and absorption of calcium. The prevalence of vitamin D is highly notable. There are certain studies which show that around 41 % of the people in the U.S are suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Exposing to sunshine will help to boost up the vitamin D levels in your body. The way which body generates vitamin D is to convert the sunshine right into chemicals which are being used up by the body.
The main function of vitamin D is to help absorb the calcium content even though it protects the body against the development of prostate cancer and various other diseases. The major benefits from the stars are that our body itself can produce vitamin D from the sunlight. . This is yet another powerful reason for hiking. Hiking also helps the body to make enough vitamin D naturally. Don't forget to apply a sunscreen and wear sunglasses and hiking hat. It is claimed that a minimum of 10 minutes exposure to sunlight will offer your daily necessity of vitamin D.
13. Hiking Helps Weight Loss
Hiking regularly will help you to lose your extra pounds easily. Exercising is the best way to make use of your stored energy and burn the extra calories in the body. Hiking and running are the two best examples of physical activities which help you in removing the excess fat stored in the body. It is not that you are just burning your extra pounds, but you are going to enjoy the natural beauty of nature while hiking. Hiking can be something more than that of an exercise which you do for losing your weight. It can be an obsession or even a treasured activity.
A research which was conducted by the American Council for Sports Medicine proved that you will be able to burn around 600 calories each day if you plan to hike. If you are choosing an uphill station for hiking and carries a heavy backpack, then the number of calories which you burn would be more.
There are even researchers which showed that obesity is one of the major factors which is linked to the increased rate of risk in postmenopausal breast cancer. People of all ages can opt for hiking since this is an excellent way which you can live in nature along with making yourself fit and healthy. A lot of hiking trails are there and hence you can start with a relatively flat surface and then challenge to choose a greater incline gradually. Make sure to take your Hiking GPS and a Two way radio for communication. Within a week time, if you plan to hike for a total of 6 hours, then it is sure that you can lose up to 1/2 pounds more than that while you walk. In short, hiking is the best technique to lose weight and to shape you to stay fit.
14. Reduce Tension and Anxiety- Increases Happiness
If you are planning for a hike, then there is good news for you. Even short walks are having a very positive effect on anxiety and tension. Hiking or simply walking outdoors will help to relieve your anxiety as well as tension on higher levels. Wear your hiking boots or hiking sandals. There are studies which have proved that 50 minutes of walking in outdoor for a day will lower anxiety more when compared to that in the urban areas.
Another study which was conducted proved that 15 minutes of walking in the fresh area, away from the city traffic will show a decrease of 16 % or more in the cortisol (stress hormone). However, keep in mind that this won’t happen within a single day. This is a process which takes patience and routine, but the final reward will be worth. If you do something which makes you really happy, kills depression and anxiety, then go for it and bring a sense of pleasure.
Anxiety is something which is caused due to the fear of thinking about the future and depression is something that is caused due to the past thoughts and experiences. Even though walking sounds silly, this has got a lot of health benefits. Sometimes even if you walk for hours, you may still have these conditions. Well, how frequently you walk and the time which you are choosing for walking will make a considerable difference in your capability to deal with it.
15. Hiking is Good for Stress Relief and Focus
The effectiveness of hiking as stress relief technique is a mix of healthy things which hiking clubs into one. In between your aerobic workouts, the natural surroundings which are calm and the freedom to relax and think for longer hours, hiking is considered as the best method for fighting against stress on regular basis. The strongest way in which hiking can give you stress relief is through relaxation. Even though hiking involves you in aerobic exercise, it won’t be tiring and hence aids in relaxation of your mind and body as there is direct contact with nature.
A recent research showed that getting exposed to nature can very well neutralize the effects of stress. When you are hiking around, you will be having the complete focus on your activity which helps to reduce your stress. Hiking and nature are the best choices of drugs for your stress, depression and anxiety. This is the best tool to make you more and more flexible to stress which has not yet hit you. Hiking might be the meditation which you lack these days in your busy schedules.
16. Hikers Are Creative
Are your creative juices dried up?
Then try hiking:
This is the best way in which you can boost up your happiness. The benefits of time being spent in the outdoors have been studied for many reasons. Researchers have come up with proof to show how nature positively affects a hiker’s mind and well-being. The study suggests that hiking is just another way through which you can make the mind more creative. In simple terms, walking improves your creativity. A person who is walking will develop double creative responses when compared to the one who is in sitting position.
Another research points to the fact that when exposed to nature for around 4 days, there is an increase of 50 % in their problem solving as well as creative skills. And of course, this will light up the creative spark in several things such as knocking a beer back, listening to your favorite music and many more. However, the most interesting part of this research is its focus on the cutoff of technology and media, which plays a huge part in today’s life.
17. Boost Your Mood
Of course, yes!
Hiking improves your mood. A research paper stated that walking will certainly elevate your mood. The effect will be seen highly increased if you are planning some outdoor activities like hiking. So, don’t waste time. Try getting yourself in nature. Hitting outdoors will boost up your overall health along with boosting your mood.
If you are looking for ways to get fit along with enjoying outdoor adventures, then trail walking or running and hiking are the best choices which you can depend on. Apart from boosting your mind, these are the best cardiovascular and muscle-building exercises. Thus, hitting the trails will not just boost the fitness levels, but offers various benefits for your mind, body, and mood.
Hiking gives you the same fat-burning power which the interval training offers. The only difference is that it would be coupled with some beautiful sceneries and varied terrains. The varied terrains which you will be encountering during hiking will help you to improve your balance. Not just your body benefits from hiking, staying away from the sounds, sights and busy schedules of the day and replacing them with the natural beauty of nature will wash away all your stress and help you to relax well.
18. Increases Your Energy Level
As people are getting increasingly busy with their lives and lifestyles, they are finding themselves drained as well as tried. On the other hand, if the tiredness which you are feeling is related to your lifestyle, then there are many things which you could do for increasing your energy levels. Yes, one such strongest method is planning a hike. It is just like a workout plan and you will definitely energize. It is sure to boost up your mood and revs the energy levels.
Exercise can very well boost your energy levels and hence even if on days which you are not feeling up to it, try to engage in some physical activities such as hiking for kicking the feel-good endorphins into the highest gear. If you are not used to it, then set a goal and to start with, try for a minimum of 10 minutes per day and then slowly increase. Even if you feel tired after doing all these, then it would be great if you could take a look into your lifestyle to check which all healthy changes you can implement for boosting your energy levels for making you feel great.
19. Hiking Delays Aging
Physical activities are having wide benefits since it helps to keep your mind sharper. Now, some of the researchers claim that there is a huge impact of workouts on the brain health when we age. Hiking will improve your brain function, boost your memory and also initiates good and quality sleep along with normalizing your diabetic and blood pressure levels. Finally, all these factors will help to slow down the aging process.
Some of the recent studies even claim that physical activities can very well slow down again process by around 10 years. This research has motivated many hikers to stay connected with nature and lead a more active lifestyle. The team of scientists has focused their study to be conducted with participants with no additional health conditions. They have come to a decision after comparing the results with the one which was taken during the starting to the one which was taken after five years.
The study suggests that hiking plans which range from moderate to intense will aid the senior adults to slow down brain aging. In short, physical activities are the attractive options which you can pick for reducing the burden of cognitive impairment in public health since it costs less and won’t be interfering with any medications.
20. Hiking Is Good for Your Brain!
Hiking is really a good exercise for your brain health. When you age, the hippocampus will turn out to smaller and finally results in memory loss. One of the recent studies which were conducted by the National Academy of Sciences has proved that around 40 minutes of physical activities in a week will help to push almost 2 % increase in the size of the hippocampus. This is called reversing the memory loss owing to aging. Remember that nature is having a good impact on human experience. Hence this will be more evident when you hit the trails.
Hiking is not only the best physical activities; it is the strongest form of fitness since this is the best combination of fresh air and exercise. Science is continuously finding out the fact which relates the brain-boosting phenomenon to outdoor hiking. It is said that those people who have to spend quality time in nature and less amount of time with the technology are found to have 50 % more creativity while talking about the problem-solving tasks. Workouts will physically vary the brain in a positive method, thus improving memory and sharpening your thinking skills.
21. Hiking Heals
The cancer patients, as well as the survivors in remission, will be usually in a weakened state of mind and body since they will be deeply affected by the disease cancer and their treatments procedures which are used for slowing down the progression of the disorder or achieving remission. Even though the right amount of rest is important for these patients, there is enough proof to show that people who are undergoing cancer treatment and also those people in remission will benefit from the workouts and physical activities.
It is to be noted that hiking is having a good healing effect on cancer recovering people. This is because hiking will boost the antioxidant capacity of the patients. In addition to this, hiking is also good for the overall mental health and wellness. Cancer patients will be benefiting both from being outdoors (rock climbing, hiking etc) and from exercises. However, every patient should make sure that they move forward with these plans after checking with their healthcare providers. The patients should start with a slow pace and then increase the speed and rate if necessary under professional’s support and guidance. Hot and cold weather can be a problem for patients, they can use hiking shirts for hot weather while down jackets for cold weather.
22. Develop Healthy Habits!
Healthy habits are behaviors which will benefit your mental, emotional as well as physical health. Sticking to healthy habits will boost up your overall health and gives you a fresh and good feel. Don’t worry as hiking will help you develop these healthy habits. It can help you in many ways like addiction recovery and quit all unhealthy habits which you were following such as drinking issues and usage of drugs. Remember that good health is always an outcome of the consistent effort. It is a wise decision to stick on to those healthy habits which will help uphold your health for longer periods.
While you are in a plan to develop healthy habits, small changes which you could handle easily on daily basis will help you in the formation of those habits with ease instead of always having to work on it to stick to it. Keep in mind that you should never stuff yourself with many wellness goals. Set mindful and small goals as this will greatly encourage you for molding your behavior every day. Always try including hiking or skiing on your weekends as this positively affects your health in many ways.
23. Hiking Improves Sleep Quality
There are many researches which point to the link between mental health and hiking. One such research proved that 90 minutes of walking in natural settings will help to lower rumination, which refers to negative, repetitive self-talk. If you are facing any kind of sleeping problems, then start right now and hike at the intensity which suits your fitness level. Whether these health benefits will aid you in hiking during summer season or not, there is one strong reason why you should start moving and that is improved sleep quality. Take a quality sleeping bag and four season backpacking tent with you. Use a compression bag to reduce the overall packed size of your Sleeping bag.
The amount and the quality of sleep are having a direct impact on your health, energy levels, the focusing ability and your stress levels. This clearly points to the fact that going for summer hiking is more beneficial for your health than just reducing your weight. There are certain cardiovascular exercises which could help to lower or even get rid of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea as well as restless leg syndrome. These signs are having a negative effect on the quality of your life. Keep in mind that going out for a relaxing hike is good for both your body and mind rather than popping a sleeping pill.