Getting your heart rate up and burning some calories is just one of the many benefits of hiking. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, regular aerobic activity helps decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of arthritis.
Plus, research shows that time spent outdoors in natural settings can reduce stress and enhance the quality of life for patients with depression and anxiety.
So what does hiking do for your body? The answer lies in the details. When you take time to explore nature, your mind and body are put at ease. Stress hormones have released that help in digestion, circulation, and breathing.
This benefits your entire nervous system, from the brain to your toes. Here’s what that means for your health.
Boost Your Mood
Due to the calming effect of nature and the escape from stress, hiking can help improve mood and decrease stress. Research has shown that people who exercise regularly can deal with stress better and feel less tired.
Regular exercise can also help prevent mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Increase Your Endurance
A significant advantage of hiking is that it increases your endurance level. Endurance refers to the length of time you can keep your heart rate elevated without getting tired.
Most people can only sustain an elevated heart rate for about 20 minutes before their body tells them to slow down.
But through regular hiking, you can increase your capacity to stay active for more extended periods. This means you’ll be able to reach a destination faster, hike long distances, or participate in more extended activities without feeling frazzled.
Regular exercise is known to reduce stress and improve mental health. And hiking is one of the best ways to get your heart pumping and muscles working.
Meeting up with friends and exploring new trails allows you to relax and focus on something other than the outside world.
Studies have found that people who hike regularly experience less stress and feel less overwhelmed by the demands of daily life.
This could be because hiking helps you identify with your environment, even in a large city or out in the wilderness. This is one of the many benefits of hiking, as you become more in tune with your surroundings.
Fight Depression and Anxiety
Hiking can help you fight depression and anxiety. This is because it provides a sense of purpose, interaction with nature, and a break from technology.
When you’re in the mountains or outdoors, you’re surrounded by plants and animals. You might even see clouds or the sunset.
These elements can help you connect with yourself—or any feelings of sadness or anxiety you’re dealing with.
Hiking can also be meditative, allowing you to focus on the present moment without worrying about the future.
This could be particularly beneficial for people with depression and anxiety, who often focus on the past or future.
When you’re injured, you want to do everything you can to prevent a more severe injury. But many people don’t realize that getting active can help them heal faster.
Studies show that through regular exercise, people can strengthen their muscles and reduce the risk of injuries.
Regular hiking is a low-impact, low-impact way to engage your muscles and strengthen your bones. Plus, you’ll be burning more calories than if you were to stroll around a park.
This can help reduce the risk of injuries, like sprains and strains, muscle pulls, and even some forms of arthritis.
Protect Your Body From UV Rays
Once you spend time in nature, you’ll notice how important it is to protect your body from UV rays.
If you live in a city, you may be exposed to large amounts of UV light from the sun. This can damage your skin if you’re not protected from it.
Heating, cooking, and tanning beds can increase your skin’s exposure to UV rays.
Going hiking in the mountains or on a trail will help protect your skin from the sun. It’s a great way to get some outdoor exercise while protecting your health.
What type of clothing should I wear for hiking?
Hiking clothes should be lightweight, flexible, and durable. Choose clothes that are made from natural fibers like cotton and wool.
Hiking shoes should offer good traction and support. They should also be waterproof, as you’ll probably encounter mud or water on your hike.
Which is better: a backpack or a hiking pole?
Many people choose to use both a hiking pole and a backpack on their hike. A backpack can carry your belongings, while the hiking pole can help you maintain your balance on the trail.
Do I need any special training before I go hiking?
If you’re new to hiking, consider taking a weekend trip with an experienced hiker or taking an introductory class at your local REI store.
You’ll learn the basics of hiking, including how to use a map and compass and how to read your environment.
You can also practice specific skills before your trip:
- How to calm your breathing
- How to test the ground with a stick before you put weight on it
- How to maintain your balance while walking on uneven terrain
- How to use a compass and map together
How do I pack my backpack?
There are two main things to remember when packing your backpack: keep it lightweight and organized. Try not to carry more than 20% of your body weight in your backpack. This will help ensure that you don’t injure yourself. And make sure that everything is easily accessible in case of an emergency.
Sum up: Going hiking is good for your body!
Hiking is an outdoor activity that gets your heart pumping, muscles working, and mind focused on nature. Plus, it protects your body from UV rays while getting you outside and enjoying the fresh air.
Hiking can provide various health benefits, including increased endurance, reduced stress, and better mood.
As you can see, hiking is a great way to get your body moving and enjoy the great outdoors. So get out there and hike!