When it comes to staying fit and healthy, there are few activities that can compete with hiking in the great outdoors. After a long week of work, there’s nothing better than strapping on a pair of hiking boots and heading out on the trail. Being surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature, along with the physical exertion involved, combine to provide a nourishing experience for mind, body, and soul. It’s easy to see how this type of exercise can do wonders for mental health, but what about the physical benefits? In recent months, many of us have been doing what we can to maintain an active lifestyle. Hiking is a great option, which can be both affordable and incredibly rewarding. In this article, we’ll be taking you through 5 ways it can help you to feel fitter and stronger.
1. Core Stability & Balance
Hiking usually involves walking on uneven ground, on an inclined slope, with a bag on your back. If climbing a peak, you have to repeat all of this hard work on the downward trail (once you’ve savored the beautiful view of course). All of this involves a lot of balance to keep your body stable as you move along the path. Each step you take engages your core muscles, keeping you upright and moving in the right direction. This is perfect for anybody looking to build up core strength, and can also be a great way to regain balance after an injury or break from exercise.
2. Stronger Bones
Similar to your muscles, bones can become stronger after certain types of exercise. Regular activity can help increase your peak bone mass, which helps to improve balance, reduce falls, and prevent fractures from occurring. One of the best ways to strengthen your bones is to do weight-bearing exercises. These are things like running, tennis, and (you guessed it) hiking! The movement of hiking works against gravity, providing hard work for the living tissue inside your bones as they keep you moving.
3. Decreased Risk Of Health Issues
Any form of regular exercise can have amazing benefits for your physical health, reducing the amount of trips to the doctor. Hiking is no different, providing both a cardiovascular and strength-building workout in one. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes are just some of the conditions where exercise has been proven to reduce risk.
4. Maintaining A Healthy Weight
No matter your fitness level, there is a hiking trail out there for you. Whether you’re a pro training for an event, or just starting out, you can gain huge benefits from getting outdoors. As we’ve already mentioned, hiking provides an effective aerobic workout, whilst burning serious amounts of calories. This contributes to better cardiovascular health and can go a long way to ensuring you maintain a healthy weight.
5. Increased Energy Levels
This may seem counter-intuitive, but hiking can actually raise your energy levels post-trail. There is plenty of research showing that exercise reduces fatigue and energizes your body and brain. You may not feel like going for a trek if you’re feeling exhausted, but regular hikes will help you feel all the better for it.
Hiking may not be the first thing people associate with ‘working out’, but the physical benefits it can provide really pack a punch. You’ll start to build stronger muscles and healthier bones, gain more energy, and have less health issues. You don’t have to be climbing a mountain each week to reap these rewards either. Even just a moderate hike on a weekly basis will be enough to help you feel in better health.