The Health Benefits of Hiking
About The Author: Cal Bailey runs Mountain Leon – a travel blog he started after two years backpacking and hiking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or his blogging, you can read his latest blog posts.
If anyone ever tells you to “take a hike,” you should thank them for caring for your health. Hiking is, after all, directly related to walking – and we all know how beneficial that is for our health.
We all hike for different reasons: we like seeing the scenery, we love camping under the stars, or we just need a break from the hectic city life. Still, we never stop to consider that this might be very beneficial for our mind.
While not everyone may be hiking for the same reason, here are the benefits that generally apply to most people.
- Improved Cardio, Muscular, and Respiratory Health
We all know that jogging, walking, and other similar activities are very good for increasing our muscular health and improving our heart function – which is why hiking is such an appealing option. You’ll walk, ergo, you’ll create more muscles – therefore becoming fit and lean with every step.
By hiking, you will be doing a lot of cardio. And doing cardio will further on increase the speed of your blood flow – therefore keeping your blood vessels clear of plaque. Since the blood flow will no longer be restricted in your heart, your cardiovascular health will be at its peak.
Plus, hiking also helps your respiratory health. You will strengthen your lungs – and this will make it much easier for you to fight off conditions such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
- Shaper Brain
Yes, hiking makes you smarter – and not only because you’ll be seeing new things. Hiking will increase the blood flow and oxygen level that is sent to the brain, enhancing a variety of cognitive areas.
These areas include your memory, focus, concentration – and also happiness. Since oxygen and blood will be flowing at a better rate in your brain, your body will be able to produce more chemicals – therefore making you feel smarter and happier.
Obviously, once you stop hiking, your brain will no longer get the same exercise – so if you start sharpening your mind this way, you should stick to it.
- Increased Bone Density
The more you hike, the stronger your bones will become. By hiking on a regular basis, you will be able to strengthen your bones – therefore preventing their deterioration in the long run.
Plus, since you will be able to get some fresh air while you are hiking, you will also be able to increase your overall performance and stamina. This way, your bones will work much harder – and won’t be as affected as you are going up a hill or mountain.
- Weight Loss
We’ve all been trying to hit the gym as often as possible, doing cardio at least once a week or running a few miles every now and again. What we did not know, however, is that we could reap the same benefits by simply going up and down a mountain every weekend.
By hiking, you will be doing the necessary cardio to work out your core muscles. Fat will be turned into muscles, calories will be burned – and it will be much easier for you to lose weight in a pleasant manner. Who says that exercising has to be boring?
- Better Sleep
When we go hiking, we push every button that our body puts on display. We stimulate our body, mind, soul – everything in one go. You probably know that it takes a lot to put your body into “hiking mode,” and walking over rocks and hills will require a lot of adrenaline.
They may be just baby steps, but every hiking session will push your body out of its comfort zone, forcing it to be active. Plus, since your body is no longer part of a routine, it will produce even more adrenaline. By the time you get home and hit the bed, you’ll be so tired that you’ll sleep all the way through the night.
- Reduced Anxiety and Depression
The hectic and chaotic city environment is one of the top reasons why so many people are battling with depression. Sometimes, all they need is a good hike to reset their brain and feel overall better about themselves.
Depression is basically caused by a chemical imbalance – a reduction of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that should normally occur in our brain. By “taking a hike,” not only will you be pumping oxygen to your brain, but you will also see a variety of things that will make you go “wow!”
This, in turn, will cause your serotonin levels to grow. The more serotonin you have, the happier you will be – and you’ll no longer want to stress with things that are bothering you in life.
- Total Relaxation
Going to your regular gym can be boring and is eventually seen as a chore. You spend a couple of hours where you work on some machines, sweating it off to lose some weight. Instead of walking on a treadmill for half an hour, try climbing some rocks for two hours. And instead of lifting weights, try carrying a backpack with all your necessities.
By the time you reach your destination, you will have a sense of fulfillment that beats everything else. No matter if you decide to climb down on the same day or set your camp there, it will still bring a bright smile on your face when you will see the scenery. After all, it’s great admiring nature at its best when all you usually see are cars, buildings, and pollution.
Hiking comes with a whole range of benefits, affecting both your mind and your body. Not only will it make you feel healthier – but you will also become happier.
We all have that one person that goes on a hike every weekend – and we can now see why. If it makes you feel this good, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it again. If you add the scenery in the mix as well, it beats a session in the gym tenfold.
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