Hiking – Another All-Round Sport Good for the Whole Body and Mind

When it comes to anything that I do, I have a tendency to look for the biggest bang for my buck because time is a precious commodity I do not have a lot of so I like to make the most of what I have. When it comes to working out, hiking is another great all-round workout that offers many benefits. Since I enjoy hiking, it makes working out feel more like having fun than performing a chore. Hiking is also a great way to socialise – if you hike in a group. In turn, group exercise motivates you to stay accountable for your fitness.

Health and Fitness Benefits

Gasing HillHiking can help:

  • Lower your risk of heart disease
  • Improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Boost bone density, since walking is a weight-bearing exercise
  • Improve cardiorespiratory fitness – heart and lungs
  • Build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
  • Strengthen your core
  • Improve balance
  • Help control your weight – you can burn over 500 calories per hour (my track record was 630 calories an hour)
  • Boost your mood

Medical Benefits

study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine has found that hiking may be beneficial in the recovery of cancer patients.

…researchers measured oxidative stress (thought to play a role in the onset, progression and recurrence of cancer) rates of women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer before and after hiking. The study found that long distance hiking trips may improve the antioxidative capacity, which helps fight off disease, in the blood of oncological patients. – Huffington Post

Nature Benefits

As an outdoor activity, hiking also offers all those benefits derived from being immersed in nature and the great outdoors.

It can increase creativity

“…spending time outdoors increases attention spans and creative problem-solving skills by as much as 50 percent.” – Huffington Post

Source: Creativity in the Wild, PLOS ONE

It can ease depression

According to a study from the University of Michigan, group nature walks are linked to enhanced mental health and positivity, as well as significantly lower levels of depression and feelings of stress. Had a particularly hard day? Grab a friend or your significant other for a post-work mood booster.

It may improve your outlook

A study from Glasgow University showed that people who walked, biked, or ran in nature had a lower risk of poor mental health than people who worked out indoors.

It could improve your focus

According to a study published in Psychological Science, interacting with nature gives your brain a break from everyday overstimulation, which can have a restorative effect on your attention levels.

It can strengthen your immunity

Researchers at Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School found that women who spent six hours in the woods over the course of two days had an increase in virus- and tumor-fighting white blood cells, and the boost lasted at least seven days afterwards.

Health Magazine

Hiking is a Total Body Workout

Last but not least, hiking offers you a complete workout – it is both cardio and strength training rolled into one. As a strength training exercise, hiking is a total body workout – it works your shoulders, arms, abdominals, hips, butt, legs, knees and ankles as you take on sharp inclines, use trekking poles to propel you forward and clamber over rocks. Carrying a backpack will help with the strength and endurance of your upper body.

Hiking Trails

Interested? Get started with these 15 Hiking Tips from Southwest Discoveries.

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