It’s easy to understand why hiking has become one of the most popular outdoor sports in the world. Not only is it a great way to immerse yourself in nature, it is also a fantastic option for improving your overall health and fitness. Here are some tips for how you can use hiking as a tool to help you lead a healthier lifestyle.
Hit the Trail
Much like walking around the neighborhood, hiking provides a low-impact way to get some exercise. This means that it can help you get fit without putting a lot of undue stress on your knees, hips, or other joints. But since hiking generally involves walking on a trail, your muscles will put forth more effort to cover the same distances, burning more calories in the process. In fact, it is possible to burn as much as twice as many calories while hiking as you would on a typical walk, which makes it a good option for those looking to trim their waistlines.
Use Trekking Poles
Want to burn even more calories while out on your hike? Add a pair of trekking poles to the mix. These walking sticks not only provide extra balance and support while you’re out on a walk, but they force you to use your upper body along the way as well. That turns a hike into a full-body workout, toning your arms, shoulders, chest, and abs all while burning substantially more calories. When used properly, trekking poles relieve a lot of stress off of your knees and hips, allowing you to feel more refreshed when you’ve finished your hike.
Another good way to burn additional calories and improve the strength of your cardiovascular system is to select trails that wander up and down a lot of hills. The increased effort that comes with gaining and losing elevation can have a dramatic impact on your body, building stronger muscles in your legs and core while also improving your overall lung capacity. If you want to become more physically fit, hiking hills will definitely get you headed in the right direction. Just be sure to start slowly, gradually picking up the pace over time.
Carry a Pack
Many of us carry a pack on our hikes already, but if you don’t, you may want to consider adding one. After all, you’ll want to stay hydrated out on the trail, so carrying water is a must. And it never hurts to have an extra jacket, some snacks, a flashlight, and other gear along with you as well. All of that stuff adds extra weight, which means you’ll have to work a bit harder when hiking those hills. But the added resistance can do wonders for your strength and conditioning to the point that you might want to stuff your pack with additional items just to continue pushing yourself a bit harder.
Enjoy the Benefits
Regular hiking brings a slew of benefits to the hiker, including lower blood pressure, a decrease in the risk of heart disease, increased lifespan, better balance, and a stronger core, just to name a few. If you use hiking as a way of getting healthier you’ll see these benefits start to emerge as a natural byproduct of the exercise you’re getting while out on the trail. As a result, you’ll likely begin to feel stronger and more confident in other aspects of your life too.
Breathe the Fresh Air
Multiple studies have shown that exposure to nature can have a dramatic effect on your mental and emotional well-being. Breathing fresh air, soaking up the sunshine, and simply taking the time to enjoy the sights and sounds around you on a hike can reduce depression, enhance your mood, and provide higher quality sleep as well. The best part is that you don’t have to do anything extra to reap these benefits other than simply taking a hike. This is a wonderful side effect that comes along with being outdoors on a regular basis.
It’s evident that hiking really can have a dramatic impact on your health; all you need to do is start hitting the trail. You’ll be amazed at how great you’ll feel just by getting outside and immersing yourself in nature, and the side effects from that can be life altering.