The Health Benefits of Hiking

Whether alone, with your dog, or with the family, hiking is a fun activity that also serves as good exercise. The benefits of hiking are numerous, and some are even a bit surprising.

Brisk activity is good for your heart because it gets it pumping, and a hike with a few hills does so even more. Hiking, which often involves uneven terrain, pushes your core to work harder to maintain balance in a way that a treadmill or bike just can’t compare to. This is good for your flexibility, and balance and coordination will also improve with hiking. For those people with stability issues, walking poles can ensure that hiking is as safe as possible, even if your core works a little less.

Although you can’t see it, hiking can improve your bone density. This is especially as you age and bones become thinner as you age and be more prone to breaking. Don’t be filed into thinking that this process starts later in life; the changes begin around age 30 and continue from there.

Research shows that even basking in nature virtually can improve mood and reduce stress, and hiking goes on step further by putting you directly in nature. You can listen to the birds, feel the sun and breeze on your skin, and smell the flowers. Consider the toll that stress can take on your heart and blood pressure, stress reduction is a worthy goal. The benefits exist even if you only spend a short time in nature, so there’s no excuse not to spend at least a few minutes hiking. It’s certainly more interesting to take a hike than to hop on the treadmill.

Fortunately, hiking doesn’t require a lot of preparation or equipment. A good pair of shoes is a must to prevent injury, and you’ll want to grab your water bottle to ensure you stay hydrated. A map is always a smart idea, even if you use GPS on your phone. Consider hiking with a partner as you gain experience. More experienced hikers can extend their trips to several days or even months, camping just off of the trails and meeting many likeminded hikers along the way.