When it comes to different forms of exercise, hiking is one of the most underrated. Just think about it, when you first think of different ways to exercise, does hiking even cross your mind? Most people think that they have to hit the gym in order to get in shape. However, one of the most beneficial and best forms of exercise doesn’t cost much and can be done almost anywhere at any time.
Hiking truly is a great way to burn some calories and lose weight, but there is much more to it than that. Hiking gets you out into nature, which in itself can be extremely healing. Even if you end up getting lost while hiking, being out in the wild and feeling like you’re part of something bigger than yourself is deeply therapeutic and liberating.
Let’s take a closer look at all of the benefits that hiking has to offer.
What is Hiking?
Firstly, you may be wondering what exactly hiking is. In fact you’re probably thinking, isn’t hiking just walking? In a way, hiking is just walking, but it is different in the fact that it involves walking for a couple of hours or more and is done on trails that may have varying inclines. While you can technically hike anywhere, most of the time when someone states they are going hiking they are going to be in a natural area surrounded by trees, the beach, or the mountains.
You may be wondering why you should consider hiking when you could just hit the treadmill at the gym. While hitting the gym is great, hiking has a lot more to offer in terms of your physical and mental health. Studies have shown that just being outside in nature can have a calming effect on the mind.
As we are all spending more and more time indoors and behind a screen, just taking a minute to go out and enjoy nature can be extremely beneficial. In fact, it can even reset the brain allowing you to think more clearly.
Hiking can help to improve your bone density. As you are hiking the body is going to put force on your bones. This encourages the bones to get stronger and to grow. This is important for preventing injuries, especially as you age. Going on a hike a few times a week can go a long way in improving your bone density and reducing your risk of developing bone disease such as osteoporosis.
Full Body Workout
Hiking is great for the entire body. Your legs are going to get the main workout when it comes to hiking as your hamstrings, glutes, and quads are going to be doing most of the work. However, when you are on steeper inclines your entire body is going to be engaged. Your neck, back, and core will become engaged as you take on longer and more strenuous hikes.
Fresh Air and Scenery
Another great benefit of hiking is that the scenery is always changing. Even if you hike the same trail each week you are going to see changes taking place.
This is all part of being in nature and watching the way the world around you moves on. In addition, the fresh air can help to clear the lungs and improve your thinking.
Perhaps an overlooked, but important benefit of hiking is that it is something everyone can do. You can go hiking with a group of friends or even take your family out on a trail. It is often difficult to maintain a social circle as life becomes hectic. If you were going to the gym anyway, why not take the time to go on a hike with some of your friends.
Hiking is a great workout for anyone in any shape. It is also a perfect activity no matter what your fitness goals may be. There are cardiovascular benefits as well as muscle strengthening. If you truly want to hit the trails with some friends, try packing a picnic and making a day of it.
Exploring New Destinations
Hiking is a great way to see a new place, and it’s even better when you can do it with a group of friends while on vacation. There are many hiking destinations you can go to and explore new spots. Depending on the location you choose, do a little research about hiking tours and plan your vacation. Croatia, for example, offers some of the most active and stunning hiking itineraries in the world. With towering mountain peaks, pristine forests, and a Mediterranean coastline, the country provides hikers of all levels with an opportunity to explore its natural beauty. You can also find active hiking Croatia cruises where hiking is a part of their vacation packages, giving travelers a chance to see the best of Croatia while getting some exercise.
Improve your Mood
There has been research that shows that hiking can be a great form of additional therapy for those that suffer from depression. Even if you do not suffer from depression, hiking can actually improve your mood overall. The combination of nature, endorphins, and getting away from technology makes hiking a feel good activity. If you are feeling down and losing motivation, a good hike may be just what you need.
What You Need to Hike
Not only does hiking offer a ton of mental and physical health benefits, it also doesn’t take much to get started. When you first start out good hiking boots are crucial. Make sure that you invest in a quality pair of shoes to wear while out on the trails. That is really all that you need to get started. As you move along in the sport and your hikes become longer you will want to invest in a quality pack and some other gear as well.
With all this knowledge in your pocket, do not hesitate to ‘hike the hike’ and establish one awesome, adventurous yet healthy routine in your life.