Imagine this situation, you are hiking through the beautiful nature, cool air is hitting your face, you are extremely tired from all the hiking but as the end approaches, you witness the first rays of the sun touching your face. Quite an imagination, right? Well, it may be a mere imagination for us but it is an actual reality for those who participate in hiking.
Did you know, other than the amazing times that hiking enables one to spend in the lap of mother nature, hiking also provides various benefits for the body that can improve the general well being of us? Intriguing? Well, keep on reading the article to know more about the amazing benefits of hiking and more.
Benefits of hiking
Hiking is a long, vigorous walk through trails and hilly terrains of the countryside. What started as just an activity of pleasure in Europe in the eighteenth century soon became a recreational activity for young and old alike. It not only provides abundant health benefits but also helps to improve the overall well being of the body.
Some of the most common benefits provided through hiking are
1.Great for cardiovascular health
Hiking can be extremely beneficial in improving cardiac health. Hiking raises the heartbeat which helps you to improve fitness and endurance. However, we do recommend you to not begin with long and difficult trails as it puts excessive strain on your heart.
Start with light trails and as your endurance builds up then you can increase the difficulty level. Many reports have suggested that hiking can improve chronic heart ailments. It can ameliorate hypertension, boost glucose tolerance and reduce bad cholesterol levels in the body.
Hence, this is the most important benefit of hiking no one knows about.
2.Enhances the balance of the body
One of the biggest benefit of hiking is improving the balance of the body. We can all agree that balance is never our strong forte unless someone is a dancer or fitness enthusiast. As we hike, our leg and core muscles gradually become stronger and it helps us to enhance the stability and balance even over uneven terrains.
Hiking also improves proprioception, a condition which is known as the awareness of the mind of position and movement of the body in relation to its surroundings.
3.Helps in building muscles of the body
We have to admit that hiking provides the most fun way of working out while remaining in the lap of nature. Hiking helps in exercising the entire body, working on almost every major muscle group. It not only stabilizes the leg and core muscles but also strengthens the muscles of other parts of the body including that of arms and back.
Hiking engages the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves while going upwards whereas on the other hand, coming downhill engages ankles, core and hips muscles.
4.Boosts mental well being
The health benefits of hiking are profound and vast and one big benefit of hiking is the effect it has on the mental well being. Research has stated that spending time in nature improves the overall mental wellbeing of the person. Simple scenarios of nature can make us happy and ameliorate stress drastically.
The fast-paced lifestyle we lead, it is extremely important for us to have some time exclusively for ourselves, disconnect from the problems and rejuvenate ourselves. Nothing can be better than having to go for a hike in the beautiful Mother Nature. Hiking evokes a sense of calm and peace and allows us to unplug from technology for a few hours.
Hiking is a great way to build community. It can not only help us to build new friendships but also participating in social activities, removes self-doubt and improves self-esteem. Joining social activities can also enhance your social spirit and also enhance your leadership qualities.
Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, there are also some other benefits that hiking provides:
- Increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis in future.
- Helps with weight loss, helps in removing unwanted fats from the body.
- Relieves you from insomnia and can help you to improve sleep
- Improves focus, concentration, memory and overall brain function
- Increases flexibility and coordination.
- Better quality life in general.
How to prepare yourself for hiking?
Before starting your hiking journey, make sure to prepare your body accordingly.
- You can join a gym or attend online workout classes at home to build your stamina and endurance.
- You should start slow. If you are a beginner at hiking, go for short local hikes and then gradually move up hills or uneven terrains.
- If you want to boost your fitness levels for hiking, use poles as a part of your workout program. The poles will make your upper body muscles work harder and help you to get a stronger cardio workout.
- For the lower back, go for exercises like Romanian deadlift and single stretch split exercises that will help you to train your legs and strengthen them in process.
- For the days you cannot go for hikes, you can go for a power walk on hilly terrains and also do not forget to carry weights on your backpack while doing so. These exercises will make sure to keep your hiking skills and fitness levels on the correct track.
What should you keep in mind?
There are some preventive measures and tips that you should keep in mind while hiking.
- If you are going on a remote or unfamiliar trail, make sure to go in groups or at least with a fellow hiker if you are just a beginner in hiking. With more experience, you can slowly go solo.
- Have all the basic information you need to know about the trail you are going to hike.
- Carry all the required pieces of equipment with you and do not forget to hydrate yourself. Choose good footwear that helps us to support your ankle during hiking and also makes sure to avoid blisters when hiking for miles.
- During hiking, do not wander off the marked path. Keep following the guidelines and instructions of your guide.
Now there you go, everything you need to know about the benefits of hiking. A walk on hilly terrain or sidewalk enjoying the warmth and love of Mother Nature would not produce any unwanted effects in the body but will produce several benefits for the system. However, if you have an underlying chronic ailment, do consult your medical provider once before starting your journey as a hiker.