For generations, people’s main mode of transportation was walking. Back before there were cars, paved highways, and mass transit, the masses normally traveled from point A to point B on foot. Though increased modes of transportation may be convenient to our modern lifestyle, our sedentary ways are leading to many health crises that can all be avoided by hiking, the way our ancestors used to do. Once you discover the health benefits of hiking you most likely are going to be taking every opportunity possible to go out into nature’s playground and explore your local hiking trails. So what exactly are the benefits of hiking, you might ask? There are so many! The following list includes just a few:
1. Hiking can help you to lose weight.
This may seem obvious, but hiking is a great weight loss activity. Depending on the terrain, it is estimated that a person who weighs 154 lbs. can burn up to 370 calories an hour just by hiking! And just think, instead of standing cooped up inside in front of a television screen doing those repetitive aerobic exercise moves, you could be outside enjoying the variety and natural beauty of a scenic hike, all while burning calories and dropping pounds!
2. Hiking can prevent heart disease and stroke.
Getting 30 to 60 minutes of regular, vigorous exercise per week can greatly reduce your risk for both strokes and heart disease. Hiking is a perfect activity to include in your regular exercise routine. You can vary your pace and the level of difficulty in your hikes to match your physical condition. The more you hike, the more you can build up your endurance to take even longer, brisker hikes that will continue to help your heart remain healthy!
3. Hiking can lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
If you struggle with high triglycerides and/or cholesterol, hiking is one way you can help lower them to a healthier level. If your triglycerides or LDL cholesterol are high or borderline, you have reason for concern. If these levels are not brought under control, they can lead to hardening of the arteries, which can cause multiple health risks, including heart attacks and death. Hiking is a proven way to help lower these dangerous levels and get on track to living a healthier lifestyle.
4. Hiking can lower your levels of depression, stress, and anxiety.
Regular exercise has been demonstrated to lower stress, anxiety, and depression. The serene, natural setting of a hiking trail can be even more beneficial for improving these conditions than some other forms of exercise.
5. Hiking can lower your risk of certain kinds of cancer.
Though most people may not realize it, hiking can even lower your risk of certain kinds of cancers! Studies indicate that both colon and breast cancer rates have been reduced through hiking! If you are at an increased risk of cancer due to family history or other factors, getting regular screenings is very important. At those screenings, you can ask your physician about starting a hiking routine that could help to reduce your cancer risk.
6. Hiking can improve your bone density and help to prevent osteoporosis.
The constant motion of hiking along the trails can help to increase your body’s bone density. When you are outside in the sunlight enjoying our hikes, your body can also receive extra Vitamin D. High bone density and increased Vitamin D will help our bodies to build healthy, strong bones and prevent conditions that can cause fracturing and brittle bones, such as osteoporosis.
7. Hiking can help to prevent Type 2 Diabetes.
By preventing weight gain, hiking can also help you not to develop Type 2 Diabetes, which has been on the rise for several decades. This disease can negative your quality of life in many significant ways. You can help to reverse the current Type 2 Diabetes trend and prevent contracting this harmful disease by hitting the hiking trails!
8. Hiking can build strong muscles.
As you hike, you are giving your muscles a great workout. The more you move your muscles, the stronger and more toned they will become. The muscles in your legs, hips and the muscles of your core. Strong muscles will in turn help you in all the physical activities you enjoy engaging in most.
9. Hiking can improve your balance.
As you navigate along the trails, hiking can help you to develop excellent balance, especially as you increase in your skill level. You may want to start off on beginner trails and build up your skill levels gradually. Then, after you have mastered the easier trails, you can move on to more advanced trails.
10. Hiking can even potentially give you a longer life!
The more you exercise, the less risk you have for dying an early death. Regular exercise, such as hiking, can help to prevent early death by ensuring that your body is in peak condition. Hiking is a fun, enjoyable, and relaxing way to improve not only the quality, but even the quantity of your life!
As you can see, hiking has a great number of health benefits. From increased bone density, to preventing adverse health conditions, to potentially lengthening your lifespan, hiking is one of the best fitness choices you can make! So this weekend why not pack some healthy snacks and water, and take a hike? Your body will thank you!
Fantastic Places to hike in the us: