If you want to enjoy picturesque views and savor nature’s fresh air, heading out on a hike can give you just that. But what else can you benefit from hiking? Apparently, there's a lot!
From improving your overall fitness to boosting your brainpower, hiking proves to be an adventure worth trying. It's also an exciting activity to share with friends, plus you can even build new friendships along your journey.
So, if this already sounds interesting for you, read on! We thought of breaking these hiking benefits down in a handy list, so you’ll know exactly what’s in it for you.
Find out how hiking can help relieve your stress, improve your physique, support your weight loss efforts, stir your creativity, and reduce your risk of illnesses. We’ve also included some safe hiking tips that we thought would be useful for your adventure!
How Hiking Benefits Your Health
Hiking offers tons of tangible benefits that will make you feel good and happy! Here are some of the reasons why you should totally consider taking a long walk into the wilderness:
Hiking improves your overall fitness
We are all aware that it’s important to have some form of physical activity to keep ourselves healthy and strong. We are urged to squeeze some workout time in our busy schedules, which can really get tricky.
And admit it, not a lot of us are inclined to the concept of regular gym workouts as many of us are intimidated by the massive equipment and hardcore fitness buffs. So, what’s a good alternative?
Well, we’d say it’s hiking. Cardiovascular workouts performed in the gym are, without a doubt, great for your health. But hiking can offer you just the same benefits if we’re talking about fitness.
During a good hike, your hamstrings, lower legs, quadriceps, and hip muscles are exercised. Since walking also makes you bear your weight, hiking also helps to boost your core strength and bone density.
Hiking aids in weight loss
Since hiking is considered a viable substitute for the gym, it’s natural for us to think that it can make us lose weight, too. Apparently, it’s true. Hiking is said to burn between 430 and 500 calories per hour.
So, can you imagine how much calories you’ll be able to torch if you last – let’s say – for three hours? And what more if you do it twice a week? Well, we’re looking at a bulk of torched calories!
It’s essential to note, though, that all of us have different sets of fitness goals and preferences on how to achieve them. Weight loss may also mean more for others.
But, if losing weight is something that you really want to attain, hiking presents itself as a wonderful addition to your fitness routine. You can even look for a hiking buddy with the same goals as yours!
Hiking helps your body to recover faster
Not only can hiking boost your physical health and wellness but can even help you heal faster as well. Research even provided evidence for this claim.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, long-distance hike trips improved the antioxidative capacity of oncological patients.
A meta-analysis of 14 studies also showed that breast cancer survivors who performed some form of exercise like hiking improved their quality of life and recovery.
Hiking prevents the risk of heart disease
Engaging in any form of physical exercise provides significant benefits for the heart. This is why it’s no longer surprising to hear that hiking promotes heart health as well, aside from weight loss and overall fitness.
Just like any other form of physical activity, hiking also lowers blood pressure, preventing the development of heart diseases and other severe health conditions.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), walking for at least an hour a day can bring health advantages such as decreased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
Performing aerobic activities such as walking or hiking increases HDL or “good cholesterol” levels, and decreases the amounts of LDL or “bad cholesterol”.
Hiking boosts your mental health
The psychological benefits of hiking cannot be ignored. Getting out of your indoor space to connect with nature can do wonders for your mind and soul.
Several conditions like stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues are becoming more rampant over the years. And hiking can provide relief for these conditions.
In fact, researchers found a new prescription for mental health: walking in nature. According to the study, doing so can prevent your risk of depression.
The research particularly found that people who walked for 1 hour and 30 minutes in a natural area reduced activity in a brain region that is associated with depression.
The study suggests that walking in nature may promote mental health amid a “rapidly urbanizing world”.
Hiking enhances your creativity
One of the mental health benefits of hiking is its ability to enhance your creativity. Research also provided proof that walking enhances creativity, especially if you want to solve a problem.
According to a Stanford study, walking boosts creative inspiration by an average of 60 percent. The results suggest that walking can promote “divergent thinking”, allowing you to explore as many solutions as possible.
Hiking allows you to disconnect
Many of us spend a hefty amount of time on our phones and other digital gadgets. And with our highly modernized world, there’s no more question to it.
The prominence of our screens in our daily lives usually make us miss tons of more important things such as quality time with friends and family.
It also often leads to a sedentary lifestyle, which contributes to lifestyle-related health problems.
Hiking provides an avenue to break free from this current. It’s a simple edge but the chance to unplug has become one of the most significant hiking benefits.
Walking in the woods reminds us that we are a tiny particle in this vast, varied world, and makes us appreciate the beauty in this truth.
It also allows us to take in and celebrate the gifts of nature instead of being swallowed by social media.
Hiking makes you happier
Hiking is also thought to be beneficial in making people feel happier. One study even provided evidence that hiking can reduce the feeling of hopelessness and depression in high-risk suicide patients.
And while hiking is not the be-all and end-all of a happy life, it still makes a good distraction, especially when you’re on the edge of bursting.
Well, happiness is a tricky thing. But just imagine taking a good walk with your loved ones out in a beautiful natural area. We’re totally counting this as a happy pill.
Hiking can also improve your social life
Hiking outdoors is a fun activity to do with your family and friends. What makes it even greater is the fact that it’s an activity that restricts no one, provided of course that you follow some safety tips (we’ve included some below).
This means you can invite your friends, loved ones, and even strangers to hike! One of the social benefits of hiking is the chance it gives you to bond with the important people in your life, and get to know them more.
Safe Hiking Tips
Now that you know how hiking can benefit your overall health and wellness, we’re assuming that you’re more convinced to take that hike.
So, we also list down a few smart tips to let you enjoy your adventure better. You can make this as a guide for a safe exploration:
To make sure you won’t get lost, make sure that you have a map and a compass with you, especially if you’re a newbie. And don’t just bring them, also figure out how to use them.
Also, bring the other essentials: pocket knife, water containers, fire-starting tools, sun protection, rain gear, and extra layers of clothing for unexpected temperature changes.
It is also essential to pack extra water and food, a whistle, and a first-aid kit.
If you’re planning to take longer hikes, make sure that you are prepared. Training might be necessary, especially if you are new to the experience.
Keep yourself updated on the weather conditions, so you know what to expect. If rain is in the forecast, it’s best to delay your hike.
Make sure that you are appropriately dressed for the hike. Wear the right shoes with the perfect fit, so you can avoid foot aches and blisters.
So, there you go! Now you already know how hiking can significantly improve your physical, mental, and even social health.
The bottom line is, while hiking doesn’t directly provide the cure for anything or the immediate fix for all your problems, it benefits you significantly (maybe even better than you thought).
Hiking proves to be an exciting, fulfilling activity that needs more love and appreciation.
It gives you a chance to work out, take a digital break, get in touch with nature, and appreciate the beauty of the world that we’re living in.
It also allows us to spend quality time with the people who matter to us, and essentially, to live more. With all these said, hiking is indeed fantastic for you!