We all know that our health is extremely important and we should put at least a little more effort into being a healthy person. We also know that the best way to improve our health is through exercising and eating right. But unfortunately, getting into a great exercise routine is hard to do.
Gym memberships have high monthly fees and if you’re not experienced with the equipment, you can feel like you are completely lost. Taking workout classes can be even more expensive. But luckily, you don’t need to spend any money at all if you want to be healthy.
Hiking is a free exercise alternative that can provide you with a number of health benefits, no matter your starting level of fitness or activity. If you’re looking to get healthier without spending hundreds of dollars to join a gym, hiking can be a great option for you.
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Here are just a few of the many health benefits of hiking:
#1 – Hiking Makes You Happier
The health benefits of hiking don’t only apply to losing weight and having a healthier body. It can also help maintain and strengthen your mental health, which can be just as important as caring for the health of your body.
It allows you to get away from technology, explore nature, and get some much needed “me” time. It can help fight feelings of depression, reduce the frequency of thoughts of suicide and hopelessness, and help you spend more time in the fresh air and sun.
#2 – Improves Overall Health
The physical exertion helps our bodies in a number of ways. Through helping us lose weight, allowing us to get outside, and improving our sleep by reducing stress, hiking acts as an all-in-one exercise for improving our general health.
Even if there is one area that you hope will improve, such as losing weight or toning up, you will probably find other areas of your health will improve as well. This is because exercise does a number of great things for our body. Our bodies crave frequent activity, but unfortunately we spend most of our time sitting. By going for a hike, we give our bodies the attention and activity they're looking for.
#3 – Reduces Your Risk of Heart Disease
Having high blood pressure and cholesterol put you at risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. They are also two extremely dangerous consequences of being overweight and out of shape.
Whether you’re already suffering from high blood pressure and cholesterol or you are hoping to take preventative measures from it occurring, walking is a great way to do so. You can reduce both high blood pressure and cholesterol through frequent hikes. In fact, walking downhill is actually more effective at lowering your risk of heart disease than walking up hill – so be sure to appreciate your trek down the mountain just as much.
#4 – Helps Prevent Diabetes
Heart disease isn’t the only thing that it can help prevent. If you have diabetes, hiking can be a great way to get the amount of insulin in your body under control. Regular exercise can also prevent diabetes from causing degenerative damage to the body.
For those at risk of Type II diabetes, it can help eliminate or reduce your risk by helping you take control of your body and your health. Because Type II diabetes usually comes from being overweight, it allows you to drop the extra pounds and return your body to health before diabetes can set in.
#5 – Increases Bone Density
There are multiple ways regular hikes can improve your bone health. First and foremost, regularly exercising helps your bone build up tolerance to impacts and allow them to strengthen. If you add weight during your hike, such as wearing a backpack, you will find even more bone-improving benefits.
But it can also help to improve your bone health by getting you out in the sun and increasing your Vitamin D levels. Because many of us spend the bulk of our days inside, it can be difficult to get the right amount of Vitamin D. But when you spend a few hours a week out in the sun and exploring nature, you’ll be sure to get enough Vitamin D to improve on strong bones.
#6 – Strengthens Relationships with Friends
Hiking is the perfect activity to do in a group or with a friend or two. Through creating frequent hiking “dates” you have something to look forward to with your friends that will improve everyone’s mood and happiness. Sharing the experience of reaching the tops of the mountains or hills can also be great for bonding.
Find a partner to begin your journey, If you can’t find a friend to go with or you are new to your area, it can also be a great way to meet new people. Try an meet up online if you’re lacking connections to join you.
#7 – Reduces Anxiety and Tension
Stress can have a number of different negative effects on our body. When we are overly stressed and do not remove the anxiety and tension appropriately, it hurts our sleep, our eating habits, and we can experience back pain. But it isn’t always easy to reduce our stress levels.
Hiking can help you relieve stress, anxiety, and tension by by increasing the natural endorphins released in our bodies. Because the workout takes a lot of energy and effort, you will feel more relaxed when you return home. It can also help reduce your stress by forcing you to unplug from your cellphone or laptop.
#8 – Helps with Osteoporosis and Arthritis
One of the main reasons that hiking can help with osteoporosis and arthritis is because it helps your circulation. When you’re out and moving, your body can push oxygen through the joints more easily and can help to remove inflammation from the area, which can cause you pain if it is not given the proper attention.
If you have osteoporosis or arthritis, be sure to take extra precautions you may need to start out slower or use trekking poles. Additionally, wearing the proper shoes can help distribute your weight and the pressure of walking from joints like your knees and your ankles.
#9 – Increases Cardio-respiratory Fitness
Our cardio-respiratory fitness is measured by the oxygen moving through our muscles during exercise. Because our muscles need oxygen to be healthy and to keep us going strong, we want to improve our cardio-respiratory fitness to be as strong as possible.
Hiking is an excellent cardio workout. As you begin to get used to your workouts, you’ll find that you have more stamina and endurance and that you can explore for longer periods of time. This is a sign that your cardiorespiratory fitness is improving.
#10 – Helps You Sleep Better
We already addressed how hiking can help reduce anxiety and tension, which are known factors if you’re having trouble sleeping at night. But regular hikes can help you get better sleep for other reasons as well.
Exercise in general greatly impacts sleep quality. It allows you to fall asleep earlier, stay asleep through the night and wake up feeling more refreshed. Because hikes take so much energy to complete, you’ll hit the pillow at night ready to go to sleep. When you’re getting great sleep at night, you will feel more awake throughout your day. If you’re hoping to improve your sleep through exercise, you should aim to get at least 150 minutes a week.
#11 – Keeps Your Weight Under Control
Having extra weight can be one of the biggest struggles that our bodies will face. Being overweight can cause us a number of problems, making us sick and can even cut down our life expectancy. Even so, many of us struggle to lose weight. Between difficult workouts, strict routines, and a need for time, many of us don’t feel like losing weight is realistic.
Hiking is a great way to burn calories, drop extra pounds, and tone up your entire body. Because the activity is fun and exciting, you won’t even feel like you’re working out. With just one hour of hiking, you can burn up to 500 calories.
It's one of the best workouts for your health. Best yet, you won’t even feel like you’re working out. Through excursions and explorations, it allows you to lose weight, return to health, and feel happier – all while also giving you the opportunity to explore the world.
We hope that you enjoyed this list and you’re considering giving hiking a real chance. If you found this list helpful, share it with a friend or family member who may also be interested in the health benefits!