If you’re interested in getting more exercise and improving your fitness, you might be thinking about taking up a form of cardiovascular activity such as running, swimming, or cycling. While all these sports are fun and have great health benefits, there’s another activity that's commonly overlooked: hiking.
Here are just a few of the reasons why taking to the trails will become your new favorite activity if you give it a chance.
Hiking Has Many Physical Health Benefits
Hiking is a full body workout with numerous benefits for your physical health. Hiking gets your heart pumping and your lungs working, which improves overall cardiovascular fitness if you do it regularly. If you’re looking to lose weight or reduce your body fat percentage, hiking helps you towards this goal by increasing the number of calories you burn both during and immediately after exercise.
Hiking also helps to tone and strengthen your muscles, particularly those in your legs such as the calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Strong muscles are vital for retaining a healthy, active lifestyle and avoiding injury as you age.
Hiking even has a positive impact on your bones and joints. Regular long walks help reduce bone density loss and lower the risk of various conditions such as osteoporosis.
Because it is a low impact activity, hiking is more accessible and lower risk than activities involving running or jumping. This means it is less likely to result in injury as long as you take some basic safety precautions.
Mental Health Benefits
Hiking isn’t just good for your body. It also has significant benefits for your brain. Exercise releases endorphins, feel-good chemicals in the brain which lower stress and relieve anxiety and depression. It’s no wonder so many people took up walking and hiking for the sake of their mental health during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Whatever is going on in your day to day life, hiking can help clear your mind. It gives you space away from the things you’re dealing with and allows you to think things over in a different way.
Hiking can even boost creativity and help you to come up with ideas. Many creative people, from artists to writers, say that their best ideas come to them while they are out on their daily walk.
It's an Excellent Social Activity
Though you can go hiking by yourself, you might find it more fun when you share it with other people. Hiking is a great social activity that allows you to spend time with your loved ones. You can talk as you walk, or simply enjoy the scenery together. Either way, your relationship will benefit.
Why not try hiking with your partner, children, friends, or other family members? Because hiking is more accessible than many other forms of exercise, your entire family can take part. Just choose a suitable length and difficulty of hike for everyone in your party to make sure you all have a safe and enjoyable time.
If you don’t have anyone in your life who wants to hike with you, consider joining a group or club. This will allow you to meet others who share your passion for hiking and make some new friends at the same time.
Enjoy Being Out in Nature
We all live busy lives and many of us spend more time than we would like indoors and in front of a screen. Hiking gives you a valuable opportunity to get away from your desk and unplug.
Hiking allows you to see beautiful places and spend time outside in nature. From the relaxing properties of the natural world to the health-boosting effects of Vitamin D from sunlight, people who regularly spend time outdoors tend to be happier and healthier than those who don’t.
A Low Barrier to Entry
It’s easy and inexpensive to get started with hiking. There are countless public places where it’s free to hike, and you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment. If you invest in one thing, make it a pair of good quality, well-fitting walking shoes. You’ll also need warm, waterproof clothing that you can move in easily. Layers are ideal so you can stay at a comfortable temperature throughout your hike.
If you find yourself suffering from any pain during your hike or feeling sore afterwards, protective recovery wear can help to alleviate these symptoms. For example, if you find that your legs are sore after a long hike, leg sleeves can help.