Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities around, with millions of people heading out to walk a trail on a regular basis. But in addition to providing us with great views and a chance to get back to nature, did you know that hiking can also be really good for your health too? Here are some important benefits you can gain simply by taking a hike.
It’s a Good Workout
Since hiking is usually seen as a recreational activity that most of us enjoy it isn’t generally viewed as a workout in the traditional sense. But believe it or not, taking a stroll in the woods is actually a solid alternative to a day in the gym. Not only does hiking work the cardiovascular system, it can also help to strengthen your core, and build muscles in your legs and hips too. Spend a full day trekking on a local trail, and you’ll soon come to realize just what a good workout hiking can actually be.
It’s Great for Your Overall Health
In addition to being good exercise; hiking is great for your body in other ways too. For instance, it has been shown that hikers are less susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, and both colon and breast cancer. Hiking can also lower your blood pressure and drop your cholesterol numbers too. All of that leads to much better health in general, which often translates to more energy and a longer life.
It’s a Calorie Burner
Many of us are constantly on the lookout for ways to burn calories and lose some weight. Hiking can definitely help in that category, as a vigorous hike can burn as many as 500 calories per hour depending on speed and the difficulty of the terrain. That’s a surprisingly high number that puts hiking almost on par with activities such as running or cycling. That would explain why we’re always so hungry right after we get off the trail.
It’s Good for Your Mental Health Too!
Hiking doesn’t just provide benefits for the body; it can have a positive impact on the mind too. Taking a walk outside can help reduce stress levels dramatically and has been shown to improve a person’s overall mood as well. Additionally, hiking can lessen anxiety and bring higher levels of happiness, which research has shown is a common side effect that comes from regular exposure to nature.
It Will Help You Sleep Better
Hiking is a good cure for insomnia and will help you to sleep much better too. The physical nature of a hike will obviously tire out the body, but exposure to fresh air, sunshine, and nature all contribute to a better mental state, which in turn leads to a deeper, more sound, sleep. That alone will have a positive impact on your mental state and quality of life.
It’s a Good Break From the Routine
Taking a hike is a good way to break out of your normal workout routine while still managing to stay active at the same time. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, and not enjoying your usual exercise regimen, mix in a hike or two to not only change up the schedule, but give your body a breather as well. You will probably be amazed at how good the change of pace will feel, and when you do return to the your regular workout it will be with renewed zest.
Anyone Can Do It!
Unlike some forms of exercise, pretty much anyone can go for a hike and receive positive benefits. While not everyone can run or ride a bike, most of us can at least walk, and walking on a trail is a healthy alternative to taking a stroll around the neighborhood. Best of all, hiking is a good activity for people of all ages, which means you kids can join you on your treks and you can continue to do it later in life too.
As you can see, just heading out to your favorite trail can provide some incredibly positive benefits to your health. On top of that, it happens to be a fun activity that you can do with friends and family too. What more could you ask for?