Hiking offers many benefits beyond just getting you out of the house for a change of scenery. It provides both mental and physical benefits, some of which you get just from being out in nature, but others are specific to hiking itself. If you’ve been looking for good excuses to hit a local trail, below are seven mental and physical benefits of this outdoor activity. Just remember to take proper safety precautions on your hike so that you don’t get injured or lost.
1. It Increases Fitness Levels
It’s a well-known fact that hiking can increase one’s fitness. Ideally, you should hike for at least an hour because you’ll quickly burn over 500 calories. If you walk on a high level of incline, then you could lose weight, but you will need to hike regularly to experience weight loss. If possible, try to hike 1-3 times per week and do it for over an hour.
2. It Improves Muscle Tone
Hiking regularly can improve your muscle tone. Your entire body receives a workout when you use trekking poles to go over rough terrain and when you walk uphill, your lower body receives an amazing workout. If you’re carrying a backpack, then your entire upper body will be worked out too. If you hike regularly, eventually your quads, hamstrings, and glutes will become much more defined.
3. It Increases Creativity
There is research that shows spending time outdoors includes creative problem-solving skills and attention spans. In fact, it increases as much as 50 percent. This has a little something to do with unplugging from technology. If you want to increase your creativity, then get out and hike as often as you can.
4. It Lowers Blood Pressure
Hiking regularly reduces blood pressure, as well as cholesterol. As a result, your risk of getting heart disease goes down. Not only that but your risk of diabetes and stroke also goes down. One of the best ways to remove blood sugars and improve your tolerance to glucose is by hiking downhill. The next time you go hiking, try to hike uphill and downhill, so you get the best of both worlds.
5. It Controls And Prevents Diabetes
Hiking regularly can help you control diabetes, and it can help you prevent it if you don’t have it. As previously mentioned, hiking downhill, and hiking in general can lower your blood sugar levels. Working out transports glucose from your bloodstream and then uses it for energy, and hiking is a form of working out. This is why it can prevent and control diabetes.
6. It Curbs Depression And Increases Happiness
This makes our list because there is research that shows hiking can help those who suffer from severe happiness. In fact, there is research that shows people who are depressed feel less hopeless and depressed when they hike. Depressed people tend to have a sedentary lifestyle, so by hiking, they may be inspired to live a more active lifestyle. If you suffer from depression and you want to feel better and increase your happiness, as well as increase the chances of you becoming more active, then give hiking a try.
7. It Can Heal
Some research has suggested that hiking may go as far as helping those with cancer. The International Journal of Sports Medicine published a study in the past, and the study measured oxidative stress rates of men with prostate cancer and women who had breast cancer before hiking and after hiking. The study revealed that long hiking trips might improve one’s anti-oxidative capacity, which helps fight off illness. Another study showed that women who survived breast cancer and who exercised regularly (many who did hiking) believed the physical activity played an important role in their recovery.
Hiking boosts creativity improves muscle tone and increases fitness levels. It also reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and it can prevent diabetes. Hiking can curb depression, improves one’s mood, and it may help you heal. This is why you should start hiking on a regular basis.