Hiking isn't just taking a short walk in the woods (well, it is if you want it to be). Taking a hike is an opportunity to escape the modern world and unplug. Along with providing a break from reality, hiking offers physical benefits that can improve health in individuals of all ages.
· Hiking on a regular basis can help lower your risk of developing heart disease. Heart disease can describe a range of conditions that affect your heart, such as: coronary artery disease, arrhythmias (heart rhythm abnormalities), and narrowed or blocked blood vessels. You heart is a muscle. Activity that increases heart rate will strengthen the cardiovascular system and will help improve overall wellness.
· Improves blood pressure and blood sugar levels, particularly in individuals who have Type-2 diabetes. Type-2 diabetes tends to occur in individuals who are overweight, sedentary, and have poor diets. By adding hiking to your routine, Type-2 diabetic patients will push glucose out of their blood and into surrounding cells, and will help to maintain more consistent blood sugar levels.
· Hiking helps boost bone density, since walking is a weight-bearing exercise. The impact of your feet hitting the ground during a prolonged hike can increase the bone density in your lower body. There will be even more impact when hiking uphill or downhill.
· Builds strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs. Hiking also engages your abdomen and will result in strengthening your core. When hiking more difficult uphill terrain, using your arms to pull yourself up a trail will also increase upper body strength. It is possible to achieve a full-body workout during one hike. Over time, this can strengthen and tone your entire body without setting foot in a gym.
· Improve balance by combining movements of multiple muscle groups at the same time. Synchronization paired with locomotion and adaptation to changing landscape requires lower body and core strength that will aid in balance. Balance is important to individuals of all ages, but most important in the aging populations.
· Hiking can help improve weight. There are many contributing factors to weight loss, but the pace and duration that you hike can lead to weight loss. If you consume fewer calories than are expended during physical activity, weight loss will occur. Hiking is essentially like hitting the fitness jackpot for your body. Cardiovascular and strength training combined creates a more efficient and beneficial workout.
· Hiking can have a positive impact on mood. Spending time in nature and breaking free from light cast by a television or computer screen, has been proven to improve overall mood. Surrounding yourself with nature and unplugging from technology will allow you to appreciate the natural beauty around you and create a more positive outlook on life.
Take an opportunity to get out and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds you. Who knows, you may find a new appreciation for something that you never noticed before! Sometimes you've just got to get out and live.