When people think about doing something to improve their health, most of them think about joining a gym or spending hours jogging. For some reason, most people wouldn’t consider hiking as a possible solution. Perhaps this is because it’s a recreational activity and we often have a ‘no pain, no gain’ mindset, believing that the only things that will really improve our health must be unpleasant in some way. Hiking is actually a perfect example of why this isn’t the case. Not only is it fun, it is also one of the best things we can to for our body. Here are a few reasons why.
Hiking is a weight bearing exercise and this is good news because it means that it helps to keep your bones strong and healthy. As a result, people who go for hikes regularly will be less likely to suffer from breaks and fractures and even osteoporosis as they get older because their bones will have been given the chance to strengthen.
It’s also good for our bones because it is an outdoor activity. This means that we are getting plenty of vitamin D from the sun, a mineral that people are increasingly lacking as they spend more of their work and leisure time indoors. Hiking being an outdoor activity also means that we are getting plenty of fresh air, a welcome change from the pollution that we usually breathe in if we live in a city.
Hiking may not leave us as out of breath as a long distance run, but it’s still an aerobic exercise, increasing the capacity of our lungs. This means that it has the same health benefits, like decreasing our risk of cardiovascular disease, as going for a run would. The difference is that it’s not so exhausting.
You also burn a tonne of calories when you go out hiking. Often a lot more than when you go to the gym or go for a run because hiking is something that you can do for hours on end, instead of being too tired to continue after 30 minutes or so. This helps you keep a healthy weight and it also means hiking can help prevent conditions such as diabetes.
It also has benefits for our mind. Hiking is a great stress-relief activity, particularly when it’s away from all the hustle and bustle of the city. Unlike many exercises, hiking is something that nearly everyone can do, even if they consider themselves to be in pretty bad shape to begin with. However, if you have hypertension or heart disease you should talk to a doctor before you undertake any physical activity.