Hiking, which happens to be simply walking over uneven surfaces, could very well be the perfect exercise during your search for some health benefits.
For an investment of 2 ½ hours per week, you reduce your risk of:
• Osteoporosis and Arthritis
• Heart Disease
To reduce that time further, hike with a heavy backpack; then you’ll need only 75 minutes per week. Any time over ten minutes counts toward your weekly goal, so try to get in a short walk/hike after lunch at work.
Hikers are creative.
Forget the caffeine. Those looking for a brainpower boost need look further than the closest trail.
Hikers are seriously fit.
Hitting the trail works out your body as much as it does your brain. Just one hour of trekking can burn well over 500 calories, depending on the level of incline and the weight of the pack you’re carrying. Hiking is a great way to get a serious workout without putting too much pressure on your joints.
Some research suggests that the physical benefits of hiking extend far beyond cardiovascular health, and may even go as far as to help cancer patients recover.
Hikers are happier.
Research shows that using hiking as an additional therapy can help people with severe depression feel less hopeless, depressed and suicidal. It may even inspire those suffering from it to lead a more active lifestyle.
Osteoporosis and Arthritis
In a study done by the University of Washington, they found by hiking or walking one hour a day three days per week women in the study increased their spine bone density in addition to other bones by 6% over a nine-month period. And walking also strengthens the muscles supporting these bones, thus further strengthening your body. Regarding arthritis, most healthcare professionals will tell you the best medicine is to keep moving to keep your pain and symptoms at bay.
The Center for Disease Control found from 43 separate studies that Americans who did not exercise were twice as likely to get heart disease as those that did exercise. In 2006 over 600,000 Americans died from the disease. Statistically, half of them could still be alive today if they would have exercised regularly.
One-third of Americans have high blood pressure. If left unchecked, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. But with regular hiking, you can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 10 points; lose weight from hiking, and you can lower it even further – between 5 and 20 points.
Hiking is a great exercise to lose weight. A 150-pound person burns about 370 calories per hour hiking. In many cases, diabetes comes with obesity, so by losing weight, you are reducing your risk of getting it too.
The are a myriad of health benefits from hiking as well.
As hiking puts pressure on your bones, it encourages healthy bone structure and reduces the chances of osteoporosis. Being exposed to sunshine will also increase your levels of vitamin D. Hiking is a cardiovascular activity, depending on how hard you push yourself during a hike, and thus has benefits for your cardiovascular system, such as reducing the chances of heart disease, and increasing your overall fitness. Hiking is excellent for muscle tone, particularly cross country hiking, as your body and legs have to compensate for the rough terrain by working harder.
There are also many mental benefits of hiking. Hiking outdoors can help you feel closer to nature and natural rhythms, which may increase your happiness and help you feel more fulfilled. A difficult hike, for example, up a hill or mountain, can also help you feel like you’ve achieved something more tangible than completing a fitness circuit at the gym. Not to mention, any sort of exercise is a great stress reliever and can improve your mood (thank you endorphines).
Hiking can aid in weight loss, as well as muscular toning and endurance. Cardiovascular endurance is augmented as well, especially if you do moderate to difficult hikes. Circulation can be improved as a result, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular and circulatory diseases.
Lack of physical activity and our craving for processed fast food has shot up the cases of diabetes in Americans by 50% since 1983. But with a regular activity like hiking, over time with weight loss, people with Type I diabetes can lower the amount of insulin they need to take to control their blood sugar; individuals with Type II diabetes can reverse their condition and get off of their medication altogether.
Not only is hiking well for the body physically, but it is also good for the mind. As you hike, the hormone endorphin and adrenaline are released in your body, thus lowering your feeling of anxiousness. If you are on medication for anxiety, regular hiking can lower the amount you need to take, if you need to take any at all.
Hiking gets you out with nature so you can marvel at what she has to offer while getting in your much-needed exercise at the same time. Get hiking and enjoy the outdoors!