It’s summer time in Australia and I am a big advocate of getting my exercise outdoors and soaking up some awesome vitamin D!
We are pretty lucky in most parts of our great country to have easy access to hiking trails and scenic walks and there’s nothing I like better than getting out on the trails on the weekend (Okay coffee..maybe I like coffee better..you caught me!)
There is just something about being out with nature that is like chicken soup for the soul!
Better still, it’s touted to be really good for your overall health and fitness.
There is growing evidence that a dedicated session of walking each day is better than running and other aerobic activities for overall health. When you include the terrain and inclination changes that come from hiking you increase the difficulty level of walking, as well as the benefits you receive.
Weight loss is often quoted as the number one reason someone takes up a fitness plan. While that is certainly one of the top benefits of hiking for fitness, the 7 mental and physical rewards listed below are impressive as well.
1 – You enjoy a decreased risk of developing any number of cardiovascular diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States mentions hiking as one of its top recommendations for keeping your heart healthy. You don’t have to engage in weekend or week-long hikes to benefit, either.
The CDC has released research which shows a very moderate hiking plan can deliver extreme rewards that promote heart health. Hiking for just 1 hour a day, 5 days a week drops your risk of stroke by a full 50%. Also, the CDC says that these benefits can be accessed by anyone that hikes in accordance with their personal fitness level.
Find the study HERE
Your heart becomes healthy since hiking, which is a consistent aerobic movement, increases your good HDL cholesterol level, and lowers your triglycerides as well as your harmful LDL cholesterol level. This means there is a lower chance of you developing high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease whenever you add a regular hiking routine to your life.
2 – You get an emotional boost. Being in nature for just 10 minutes has been proven to trigger the release of “feel good” chemicals in your brain. Regular exercise does the same. Combine the two through hiking, and you get a double shot of stress-relief and positive emotions.
3 – You may keep diabetes at bay. Hiking helps reduce your blood sugar levels, thereby lowering your chances of developing diabetes.
4 – You increase your bone density. This benefit is especially important for women, as they are more inclined than men to develop osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and other bone-related health conditions.
5 – You lower your risk of cancer. All regular exercise lowers your chances of developing breast, colon and other types of cancer.
Check out this study HERE
6 – Hiking can help relieve back pain. Being sedentary less, and active more, is a great way to keep back pain from developing. Hiking and walking also treat back pain effectively. Hiking puts less stress and strain on your body than running and other aerobic exercises, while still creating the core body strength that prevents, and soothes, an aching back.
7. Hiking increases your cardiovascular fitness. Your endurance will improve and if you are eating a healthy well balanced diet you may lose weight without feeling like you have to put in the hard yards at the gym. Hike with a friend or in a beautiful location and you’ll hardly notice you are exercising.