There are various reasons people love to hike. For some, they like the adrenaline rush that comes with it. Meanwhile, some find the view at the summit rewarding.
But are you aware that hiking also has a lot of health benefits? That’s because it is an excellent form of exercise that does not require you to go to the gym.
This explains why hiking is often an excellent example of a wellness trip.
If you are curious about what makes hiking a fantastic physical activity, you are in the right place. In this post, we will share six reasons hiking is one of the best exercises that you should try.
Hiking is Good for the Brain
Hiking allows you to walk in nature. And doing so is like exercising your mind as much as you work out your body. That’s because your brain releases Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
BDNF stimulates neurogenesis or the growth of new neurons in your brain. This explains why hiking makes your creative juices flowing.
And you may be physically tired afterward, but you are mentally refreshed when you return to the city.
Hiking Boosts Creativity
As mentioned previously, hiking makes your creative juices flow. That’s because you often unplug yourself when you are communing with nature. Of course, bringing your phone out to take an Instagram-worthy photo is an exemption.
Spending time outdoors allows you to be in the moment, which can increase your creativity and attention span by 50%. Mind you, these benefits can last long after your hike!
So, if you feel like life is dull, consider taking a weekend hike. Just remember to check the weather to ensure that it will be all bright and sunny. However, bringing a rain jacket is always advisable.
Hiking is the Best Cardio Workout
Hiking features all the benefits you can get from a cardio workout. That’s because it is like walking in nature, but it is on steroids.
What do we mean by that?
Hiking and walking use the same body mechanics. But there is a massive difference with what’s happening in your muscles, joints, and heart.
Walking on flat terrain requires minimal effort than doing so on uneven terrain. The latter provides a dynamic workout that increases your heart and metabolic rates. As such, you are burning calories faster.
Moreover, hiking pushes you to shift your weight and balance your body. This engages and strengthens your muscles, like your quads and glutes.
Hiking Helps You Lose Weight
Since hiking is the best cardio workout you can do, it is not surprising that it can help you lose weight. And the best part is that people who lose weight through walking and hiking are able to maintain it.
On average, walking enables you to burn 100 calories per mile. It increases up to 250 calories if you walk 2.5 miles per hour (meaning you are walking fast).
What more if you are walking in uneven terrain?
Nonetheless, losing weight through hiking should always be paired with a proper diet and exercise. After all, it is not always that you have the free time to go on a hike.
Hiking Reduces Risk of Cancer
Aside from making people physically strong, hiking is also believed to reduce cancer risks.
In a study by the National Institute of Health, oxidative stress was measured among women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer.
The imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals in the body is called oxidative stress. It is also believed to be one of the causes of cancer.
On the other hand, hiking improves the antioxidant levels in the blood of people with cancer. Antioxidants help stabilize free radicals by donating an electron without destabilizing themselves.
Hiking Increases Life Expectancy
Here’s the thing: Any physical activity can increase your life expectancy. In fact, Harvard University researchers noted that a 15-minute exercise could boost your life span by three years.
That’s because regular physical activities are believed to slow down the aging process on a cellular level. In addition, people who work out around one hour per day, seven days a week, have a 37% lower risk of premature death.
But what if you do not have an hour to spare for a daily workout? Don’t worry.
What you can do is do a few minutes of workout a couple of times a week. And then do a long hike over the weekend. That way, you can still reap the benefits brought by long hours of working out.
Hiking is a fantastic way to be physically active while enjoying the beauty of mother nature. The varied intensity and ruggedness of the terrain can also impact the health benefits you can get from conquering a trail. So, if you like to exercise but do not like going to the gym, perhaps hiking is for you.