A healthy body is a happy body, and one of the best ways to stay healthy is to get plenty of exercise. Hiking is an economical way to increase your activity level, while offering a plethora of health benefits. Start slowly, especially if you are a bit out of shape. Invest in a sturdy pair of hiking boots and do your research first. Many hiking trails are rated by intensity, so get a hiking guide and start out at the level that is right for you. Get your doctor's advice before hiking if you are pregnant or have any health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes.
Improves Your Overall Health
Hiking is an excellent way to get outdoors and get some exercise. Hiking offers a wealth of overall health benefits and may help prolong your life. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, including hiking at your own level, is safe for most people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lowers Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Take a hike to help keep your cardiovascular system in tip-top shape. Regular exercise, such as hiking, helps elevate your high-density lipoprotein levels and lower your triglyceride levels. This reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
Helps Prevent and Control Diabetes
Regular hiking helps you to control, or even prevent, diabetes by lowering your blood sugar levels. Hiking gives your muscles a workout, which moves glucose from your bloodstream for energy. Talk to your doctor first because you may need your diabetes medications adjusted when hiking regularly.
Increases Your Energy Level
Aerobic activities such as hiking bring extra oxygen and fuel to your muscles, organs and other body tissues. This extra oxygen and fuel provides a boost that strengthens your muscles and lungs, while increasing your endurance, alertness and energy level.
Keep your weight under control with a regular hiking regimen. Hiking burns calories; Diabetic Lifestyle states at a slow pace of 2 miles per hour, a 150-pound person burns approximately 240 calories per hour. Start slowly and work up to 30 minutes to 60 minutes daily.
Increases Your Bone Density
Fight osteoporosis and arthritis by taking hikes. Regular hiking helps develop strong bones and slow bone loss. If you have arthritis, the CDC says 150 minutes of hiking per week keeps your joints flexible and helps stave off the joint stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.
Lowers Your Cancer Risk
Hiking helps decrease your chances of developing some cancers. There is a lower risk of breast cancer and colon cancer associated with regular physical exercise, and it may also decrease your risk of lung cancer and endometrial cancer.
Elevates Your Mood
A hike through a beautiful wooded area can calm your nerves and lift your spirits. Take a scenic hike to relieve stress and forget your worries for a while. Hiking with a group provides an excellent opportunity to socialize and exchange ideas with others.
If you have trouble sleeping, you may find you sleep better after taking an invigorating hike. Hike regularly to reduce insomnia, get to sleep faster and enjoy a more refreshing sleep.
Provides Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient needed to keep your muscles and bones strong. Although vitamin D is available in many fortified foods, the best source is the sun. A mere 10 minutes of direct sunshine daily are all you need to maintain your vitamin D levels, so get out there and take a hike for better health.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity and Health: The Benefits of Physical Activity
- Diabetic Lifestyle: Why You Should Hike
- Johns Hopkins Health Alerts: Diabetes and Exercise: Keeping Your Blood Glucose Levels in Check
- American Heart Association: The Benefits of Walking
- FitDay: Outdoor Hiking: Why It's Good for the Body and Mind
- National Institutes of Health; Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D