We all hike for different reasons. Some enjoy the scenery, others yearn for photography opportunities, and there are some who just want to get away from city life now and then. One of the best things about hiking, however, is the positive impact the activity has on your health. Today, we’ll take some time to explore some of the health benefits that hiking brings to the table.
Physically, hiking can be very rewarding, especially when it comes to your cardiovascular system and muscle tone. Hiking lowers your blood pressure, helps manage body weight, and takes stress of your heart. Furthermore, when you increase the intensity by moving faster, carrying weight, or tackling more demanding terrain, you engage in an active workout. The more you hike, the more your muscles will become leaner and toned, especially in your lower body, which also takes pressure off your joints. This is great for anyone suffering from arthritis.
One of the main reasons I enjoy hiking is the mental and emotional clarity I obtain while immersing myself in nature. Sometimes we need to get away from the noise of life and find some quiet time to think, and the outdoors are perfect for that. Also, it’s been proven that hiking and other outdoor activities reduce tension, stress, and depression. By taking some to breathe in the fresh air, feel the warmth of the sun on your face, and listen to the tranquil melody of nature, you can sort out inner struggles and stress in a healthy way.
If you’re not interested in “lifting things up and putting them down,” in an effort to build huge muscles, and prefer to simply lose some weight and become more fit by becoming a little more active, then hiking is a great alternative to the gym. I love running, but treadmills and ellipticals can get boring, and there’s nothing like the change of scenery that a trail offers. Furthermore, hiking has one great advantage over the gym: it’s free! It costs nothing to simply walk outside and find a trail to hike, and each trail is different, so you’ll never get bored.
I know that we all have busy schedules and sometimes it’s hard to think about taking measures to improve and maintain our health. However, if your budget or discomfort with joining a gym are all that stand in your way, in terms of taking the first step towards becoming healthier, then I highly suggest going on a daily hike or even just a walk through the neighborhood. Not only will you be amazed at how quickly your body can strengthen itself through such an activity, but you’ll eventually be able to tackle longer distances and notice positive changes in your attitude.