Hiking outdoors has plenty of perks. The view, fresh air, smells and sounds of nature. I’m sure we all know that hiking is a healthy form of exercise. But what are the health benefits you can receive from an uphill trek? Grab a backpack and join us as Team Advensure looks into the facts.
Full Body Workout
Are you often conflicted with the idea of spending money to work out? Exercising in a cramped, air conditioned cube, surrounded by machines, grunting beasts and the residual musk of protein powder in the air? After a few sessions at the gym, I found my trainer yelling into my ear “Push yourself to the limit or go take a hike, you’ll never reach your fitness goals at this rate!”. So I did just that. Took off my gym sneakers, put on my hiking boots and took off towards the hills.
Trekking is a fantastic full body workout to indulge in. It can help you burn calories, tone muscle and strength your core. The best part? It doesn’t feel like work at all! You can burn over 500 calories in an hour and experts say walking on a trail is easier on your joints than walking on concrete.
Hint: Consider hiking poles to work on your upper body simultaneously
Lower your risk of heart disease
Although walking is an inherent human function, and it serves many practical uses we are determined to walk as little as possible. Not many people would walk 5 km to work every day (I’ll be drenched with sweat by the time I get to work!). What’s surprising is not many would walk even a kilometre to a friends place or the nearest grocery store.
From elevators and escalators to moving walkways and Segway machines. A casual walk is slowly becoming a thing of the past. The growing sedentary lifestyle many of us lead, paired with a wide variety of junk food we consume, leave us highly susceptible to heart disease.
According to a study conducted earlier this year, walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and coronary heart conditions by 40%. A hike amongst nature is a healthy alternative to hitting the treadmill.
Hint: A healthy diet is key to a healthy lifestyle.
Boost your Mood- Reduces Depression
While Talk therapy, lifestyle changes and medication are all good ways to handle depression. Taking a walk on the wild side can also be a powerful anti-depressant. There’s scientific evidence to back up the fact that stress relieving activities like trekking, walking or just being out in nature can do wonders for your mental health. There is quantifiable evidence that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression. Exercising outdoors releases endorphins and other bodily chemicals such as Oxytocin and Dopamine that affect emotions and can help reduce stress and feelings of anger and depression. Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA and we often forget about that.
Hint: Wilderness Therapy Programs use nature to help manage symptoms of depression
Increase Stamina and Bone Density
A lack of or drop in stamina isn’t a hard thing to identify, many of us need to take a breather after scaling a few flights of steps. Regular hiking is a strenuous activity and a good way of increasing your stamina. It helps get your muscles in shape, increase lung capacity and improve your heart rate. Along with increasing stamina, regular hiking can also help fight off Osteoporosis and arthritis. Contrary to popular belief, hiking has shown to reduce hip fracture risks by 40% Hiking keeps your joints flexible, lubricated and helps stave away joint stiffness. Hiking with weights (Like a backpack) can help build stronger bones.
Hint: Early morning hikes can be a good way to receive some vitamin D from the sun’s rays.
According to studies, hiking and regular Physical activity can help lower your risk of colon, breast and possibly lung cancer. Hiking has a number of biological effects on the body. It helps lower the levels of hormones such as insulin and estrogen and certain growth factors that have been associated with cancer development and progression. It improves the functioning of the immune system and increases your body’s metabolism decreasing exposure to carcinogens.
Hint: Studies suggest people suffering from breast or prostate cancer can reduce its progression by 40% by regular hiking and exercise.