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How Hiking Can Help In Turning Around Your Overall Body Health

Meredith Miller | Published: November 28, 2018

family hiking in mountains

Engaging in various physical activities is one of the greatest steps that an individual can take to improve their health. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which offers science-based tips to help Americans improve their overall health. According to the guideline, adults need at least two and half hours of moderate exercise each week to improve their overall health.

But the biggest problem with most people is that exercises can be unexciting and repetitive. However, it doesn’t have to be. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, you only need to find an exercise routine that not only meets your needs but also keeps you motivated. While hitting the gym every morning may make sense for some people, it might not be the best option for others.

The key to finding the most suitable exercise routine is thinking outside the barbell. Instead of waking up to the same old gym routine, why don’t you take your exercise outdoors! Hiking is a great alternative for individuals looking for an adventurous and fun way to workout. The best thing with hiking is that it can be personalized to anyone’s level of fitness. What’s more! Hiking offers numerous health benefits.

Hiking health benefits

Hiking offers numerous perks such as taking you closer to the Mother Nature, offering fantastic views to the natural flora and fauna and also enjoying the tranquility that helps your body, mind, and soul to be in harmony. Besides that, hiking also offers numerous health benefits.

Promotes the release of feel-good hormones

One of the major hiking benefits is improving overall mood. There is no doubt that hiking enhances happiness by promoting the release of endorphins from the brain. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the brain that helps our bodies to fight pain and stress. Therefore, engaging in moderate exercises such as hiking can help in relieving pain while leaving you feeling rejuvenated.

Hiking can help to boost your memory and thinking capabilities

With recent studies revealing that hiking can help in boosting brain power, there has never been a better reason to take your exercises outdoors. Studies have shown that getting physically active can enhance the size of the hippocampus. This is a section of the brain linked to verbal memory and learning.

Reducing anxiety

For many years, nature has proven to have special healing powers especially for people with anxiety disorders. Researchers at Stanford found quantifiable evidence that walking in nature can help to reduce the risk of depression. Therefore, with hiking, we no longer need to pump our bodies with anti-depressants.

Hiking helps in improving sleep quality

Numerous people across the world have insomnia and other sleep disorders that are caused by various factors. Taking some time outdoors for a stress-busting hike can help you to sleep better and wake up feeling rejuvenated.

Hiking is a powerful cardio workout

Slotting some time into your weekend to go for a hike in the park or the woods with family or friends can help in preventing various cardiovascular diseases. Hiking can help in lowering the risk of heart disease, improve blood pressure and sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels and body fat as well as improve bone density and strengthening the core.

Hiking gear

Before you head outdoors for hiking, ensure that you have proper hiking gear that includes hiking boots and comfortable attire. The best hiking gear should include waterproof shoes, and clothes made of wool, microfiber, and fleece that help you to stay warm and dry.

Also, ensure that your backpack is loaded with the following ten hiking essentials. Remember that when hiking, you are responsible for your safety and these items can help in saving your life.

• Navigation - always carry a compass and a detailed map and also remember to keep the map safely. Also, ensure that you know how to use them.
• Hydration - carry plenty of water while hiking as it will prevent you from hypothermia, heat stroke, and altitude sickness.
• Nutrition - Always remember to carry extra food while hiking. It is wise to carry food that stores for a long time and requires little preparation if any. If you are hiking with kids, remember that you will need to carry extra snacks for the hike.
• Rain gear and insulation - weather in woods are highly unpredictable. Always carry rain gear and layers of clothes while hiking. Preferably, carry wool or poly blend clothes.
• Firestarter - always pack waterproof matches in a plastic bag while hiking.
• First Aid Kit - ensure that your first aid kit has all the supplies to deal with both minor and major injuries. Also, make sure to equip yourself with basic first aid skills.
• Tools - knives or multitool can come in handy while hiking. Ensure that it is always in the backpack.
• Illumination - A light source is crucial in case you get caught in the bush after dark.
• Sun protection - ensure that you carry sunglasses to protect your eyes from sunrays and sunscreen is also important for protecting your skin.
• Shelter - Also ensure that you to pack an emergency tarp to shelter you in case of unexpected night outdoors.
• A few other items that you might need include watch, whistle, insect repellent, extra socks, and gloves.

Physical preparation

Just like any other physical activity, it is essential to prepare your body thoroughly before going outdoors to enjoy the numerous hiking benefits. For beginners, it is wise to start walking outdoors. The old-fashioned walking helps to strengthen your muscles as well as provide a cardiovascular workout. You can begin with a 30-40 minutes-walks for at least three days a week to train for an eight-kilometer hike. You can gradually increase the intensity of your exercise by training on hilly terrain.

While the natural setting is preferable, you can also train for a hike on an aerobic step machine or even stairs. If you are considering taking your backpack during the hike, then carry it with you during the training sessions. When training for hiking, focus on exercises that will boost your core and muscle strength and also balance. Training properly before the hiking day will ensure that you enjoy all the hiking benefits.

Research the trail

Getting in touch with nature always starts with simple research. The National Wildlife Federation and the National Park Service can be a great starting point for finding hiking trails around the country. It wise to choose a hike that is in level with your experience and physical fitness. For beginners, they can start with a short, less strenuous hike and then progress over time to longer and more challenging terrains. Incorporate hiking into your new lifestyle, and soon enough you will begin to reap the hiking benefits.