The age-old question, “Is hiking good for you?” can be answered with a resounding “Yes.” Hiking, simply put, is walking on trails, paths, or in nature. While hiking has been around for centuries, it has recently seen a surge in popularity, with more and more people taking to the trails to enjoy the great outdoors.
The reasons for hiking’s growing popularity are many. Some of these reasons include the desire to reconnect with nature and the low cost of the activity compared to other forms of exercise. Hiking is also a versatile hobby you can enjoy alone, with a group, or with a furry friend. Additionally, hiking is an excellent way to explore new areas, enjoy an outside environment, and see the world differently.
The health benefits of hiking go far beyond simply enjoying the great outdoors. Hiking challenges the body in unique ways. Research studies found that spending time in nature can positively impact the body and mind, helping you recharge and reconnect with yourself. With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why hiking is becoming an increasingly popular exercise and a favorite pastime for many.
Health Benefits of Hiking
1. Improves Cardiovascular Health
Hiking involves sustained physical activity that raises the heart rate, strengthens the heart muscles, and improves blood flow. Your heart works harder during hiking, which helps to improve its function and endurance. Hiking also provides a varied workout for your heart as it involves inclines and declines that challenge your heart to work at different intensities.
Besides strengthening the heart, hiking can lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. The sustained physical activity involved in hiking can help to reduce bad cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol levels. Decreased bad cholesterol also reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, allowing you to live a long and healthy life.
2. Helps with Weight Loss
Going on hikes involves sustained physical activity that burns calories and increases metabolism, making it an effective way to lose weight. The inclines and declines of hiking trails provide a varied workout that challenges the body, and helps to burn more calories than walking on a flat surface.
It can also be an enjoyable exercise that makes sticking to a weight loss plan easier. The scenic views in the great outdoors can make hiking feel more like an adventure than a workout, making it a great way to incorporate physical activity into daily life.
3. Boosts Mental Health
One profound purpose of hiking is that it can positively affect your mental health. Spending time in nature has a therapeutic effect on the mind, reducing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. The physical activity of hiking also releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals that can improve mood and reduce pain perception.
Moreover, hiking can provide a sense of accomplishment since you push yourself to achieve your goals and overcome challenges. Hiking can also give a sense of community, as individuals can bond over the shared experience of hiking and enjoy the company of family and friends.
4. Strengthens Bones and Muscles
Since hiking is a weight-bearing activity, it requires the body to work against gravity, making it an efficient way to strengthen bones and muscles. As hikers move along uneven terrain, their bodies must adapt to the changes in footing and support, which helps build more muscles.
Hiking can also help increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. The impact of hiking on the bones can help to stimulate bone growth and increase bone density, leading to stronger, healthier bones.
5. Reduces Risk of Chronic Diseases
One of the most significant benefits of hiking is helping you live longer. Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, are a growing concern worldwide. Regular hiking can help to improve overall fitness and reduce the risk of obesity, a leading risk factor for chronic diseases.
Hiking also helps to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and improve blood sugar control, all of which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
6. Enhances Sleep Quality
The physical activity involved in hiking helps reduce stress and anxiety, which negatively impact sleep. Hiking also helps to increase exposure to natural light, which can regulate the body’s circadian rhythm and improve sleep-wake cycles. Additionally, hiking can help to tire out the body, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
7. Elevated Balance and Coordination
Elevated balance and coordination are among the numerous health benefits of hiking. Hiking involves navigating uneven terrain, requiring the body to constantly adjust and adapt to maintain balance. This activity can help strengthen the muscles in your legs, core, and ankles, which are essential for maintaining balance and coordination. As these muscles become stronger, they can help reduce the risk of falls and improve overall stability.
In addition to strengthening muscles, hiking can also help to improve proprioception, which is the body’s awareness of its position in space. This heightened awareness can improve balance and coordination and reduce the risk of injury.
8. Fortifies Immune System
Engaging in hiking activity increases your immune system’s strength and efficiency. Hiking boosts immune function by enhancing blood circulation and transporting immune cells. Studies have shown that moderate to high-intensity hiking can stimulate the production of white blood cells that fight off infections and diseases.
Another way hiking can boost the immune system is through exposure to nature. Spending time in natural environments, such as forests and mountains, can increase the production of immune cells, leading to an overall improvement in immune function.
9. Increases Energy Levels
The health benefits of hiking are many, including increasing energy levels through physical demands. One way hiking increases energy is by releasing endorphins, natural feel-good chemicals produced by the body during exercise. Endorphins provide a sense of euphoria and help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase overall energy levels.
The Bottom Line
So, why do people like hiking? Besides the obvious enjoyment of being outdoors and taking in scenic views, hiking provides health benefits that contribute to an overall sense of wellbeing. From boosting the immune system to improving balance and coordination, hiking is a fun and effective way to promote physical fitness and mental health. Combining physical exercise and exposure to nature, hiking is a great way to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase productivity.
Whether it’s a leisurely hike or a challenging mountain trek, the health benefits of hiking make it a popular activity for people of all ages and fitness levels. If you haven’t tried hiking, it might be time to hit the trails and experience the benefits for yourself.
Refresh and recharge your body and mind post-hike at New Denver Lodge.
The benefits of hiking make it a recreational activity worth trying. After a long and exhilarating hike, what better way to relax than with wellness retreats in BC to soothe your mind and body? New Denver Lodge provides an ideal setting for practicing meditation and exploring various mindfulness techniques. Besides the luxurious private and shared bedrooms, our lodge offers relaxing amenities perfect for unwinding after a long trek. Contact us today to know more!