Hiking is a popular, inexpensive way to get out and take a break from daily life. The really good news is it is excellent for both your body and brain.
Saying that there are benefits associated with hiking may sound a bit obvious. Getting out and walking is a pretty obvious way to get some exercise. That being said, burning a few calories is not really the point.
If you are looking for a workout, hiking offers an opportunity to break a sweat. The level of excursion, however, is not as high as most other exercises. As a result, there are two ways to get the cardio benefits of hiking.
The first is to walk for more than 20 minutes. This consistently keeps your heart rate up and starts to burn calories. 20 minutes, however, isn’t really going to cut it unless you do it every day. To really break a sweat and build stamina, you want to hike at least an hour. If it sounds like a lot, keep in mind you are going 30 minutes in one direction and 30 minutes back.
The second method is to go up. By up, I mean to hike a trail with elevation changes. Generally, a trail that goes up at a slight incline for a long time is better than one that goes up steeply for a short period. Time is a key factor, so try to find a trail that isn’t going to wipe you out in the first 200 feet.
Regardless of the exercise element, the mental benefits of hiking are well noted. Life can be hectic and stress can build up without being noticed. Hiking is like taking a timeout from life. You have an hour or more to just walk along and relax. The walking helps burn off the stress while the time gives you a chance to just think without interruption. Psychologist note that nearly every adult benefits from having a little “me” time when they are not being tugged this way and that by people, telephone calls and even email messages. At the end of your hike, I guarantee you will feel refreshed and have a new perspective on things.
- Get fit
- Exercise on your own terms
- Mental health support
- Lower your blood pressure and sugar levels
- Develop lean legs
- Strengthen your core
- Protect your bone density
- Boost your brain
- Explore nature and get fresh air
That hiking is good for you, both physically and mentally, is an undisputed fact. Of course, the only way to benefit from it is to head out and start trekking along.