There are plenty of ways for you to get the exercise your body needs to stay healthy, but hiking may be one of the most enjoyable activities. It provides you with a way to reconnect with nature and learn more about your local environment. As you do so, your mind and body will go through many positive changes.
1. Reduce Your Risks For Heart Disease
One of the primary reasons for physical activity is to get your heart rate up and force your heart to work harder. This is important because your heart, like any other muscle in the body, needs exercise to become stronger. Studies have found that hiking reduces the risks for heart disease by half.
2. Lower Your Blood Pressure
While the symptoms of hypertension or blood pressure typically go unnoticed, this is a condition that can lead to life-threatening results. When it goes diagnosed or untreated, high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack or stroke. However, going for a hike can be enough to help alleviate this condition. Research has found that regular exercise drops your blood pressure by four to 10 points, depending on the duration and intensity of the workouts.
3. Regulate Your Blood Sugar
Diabetes is a condition in which your body is either producing insufficient amounts of the insulin needed to push sugar to the cells or storing too much sugar for your cells to process. In either case, going for a hike can alleviate these conditions. It does this by helping your body create more insulin and by burning more sugar for energy as you exercise.
4. Improve Bone and Joint Health
As people age, their bodies slow the rate at which new bone is produced. Meanwhile, your existing bone loses density and strength. By exercising, you can enhance bone density and build muscle to protect the bones. This helps alleviate conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
5. Alleviate Depression and Anxiety
Going for a hike helps people with anxiety by removing them from the external stimuli that are causing them to feel tense or anxious. Similarly, people with depression experience fewer depressive episodes when they regularly walk in nature. This is partly due to the calming effect that a quiet walk can have on the mind.
6. Improve Your Memory
When you go for a hike, you'll be forming new and strong memories for your brain to process. This can help you strengthen your memory recall. To maximise this effect, try to find a variety of different paths to hike since this will allow you to expose your mind to more new experiences.
7. Lose More Weight
Once you start hiking, you should consistently continue with this healthy habit. Even if it's lightly raining, try to go for a short hike. You can look up tips for hiking in the rain to ensure you're doing it safely. By maintaining this consistent schedule, you'll continue to burn calories regularly, speeding up your metabolic rate. As a result, you'll lose more weight in a shorter amount of time.
8. Enhance Your Critical Thinking Skills
You'll find that it's easier to solve challenging problems after you go for a quiet hike in the woods. That's because you're escaping a bustling environment where you're consistently bombarded with stimuli. As you hike, your mind has the freedom to subconsciously work on your problems.
9. Alleviate Stress
Simply spending time in nature will give your mind an opportunity to relax, and you may even find it a joyful experience to explore nature. During your hike, your mind will stop the production of stress hormones. You may even experience the euphoria of endorphins rushing through your brain as you find pleasure in the hike. You'll return home feeling less stressed and more energetic.
10. Sleep Better at Night
Finally, you'll find that adding a hike to your routine will ensure you sleep better through each night. You'll enjoy better sleep partly because going for a hike will help you burn more energy. This will allow you to relax better in the evening. Additionally, getting outdoors will expose you to the changes of the day into night. This natural light exposure resets your circadian rhythm or biological clock.
Before you start any new activity, you should consult your doctor. Your physician may recommend taking it slow and gradually increasing the length and intensity of your workouts for the sake of your personal safety. Additionally, hiking or working out with a partner can be another way to stay safe and stay motivated.