The many benefits of hiking

Beautiful landscapes, balmy sunshine, gentle breezes, rustling leaves, and the joy of exploration are some of the reasons that makes hiking such an enjoyable activity. It’s also good for your health as it keeps you fit and active. Scientific evidence strongly supports the theory that being around nature acts as a mood booster.

Going on a hike helps you get healthy in more ways than one – the mental and physical benefits of hiking keeps your overall health in top shape.

If you’re not sure about what your skill level is, choose a spot that offers many trails. Situated in San Francisco, Muir Woods National Monument is the right choice for those who are looking for a place that provides both short and long trails. Muir Woods hikes offer multiple trails that are dirt, narrow, steep, and rutted with tree roots.

So, whether you’re a novice who prefer gentle foot trails or an adventurer looking to take on wild backcountry-like trails, here are the many benefits of taking a hike.

Physical Health

Boosts fitness levels:

Hiking is essentially a cardiovascular exercise that tones your entire body. Going on a hike will also be better for your ligaments and joints as concrete floors are much harsher on impact. Taking regular hikes is a great option for those who aren’t interested in exercising at gyms.

Promotes a good night’s sleep:

We all know the side effects of not having enough sleep – memory issues, weakened immunity, loss of focus, high risk of diabetes, weight gain, and high blood pressure are some of the main effects.

Exercise promotes quality sleep and hiking provides a very good alternative to exercising in a gym. You will notice that you’re able to naturally fall asleep just after a few days of regular hiking.

Builds muscles:

The more you walk, the more you exercise your leg muscles. On strenuous trails, you will be climbing steep slopes, tackling rocks and roots, and using trekking poles to push yourself forward.

So, as you move on to more challenging trails, muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, lower leg muscles, and hip muscles will get a quality workout. To increase your core strength, hike while carrying a backpack.

Gives you a healthy dose of the sunshine vitamin:

Vitamin D is one of the important vitamins that are needed by the body. Healthy vitamin D intake ensures strong bones, better bone density, better lung function, and reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The lack of enough Vitamin D causes rickets, bone deformity, muscle weakness, asthma in kids, and cognitive impairment in senior citizens. One of the best natural sources of Vitamin D is sunlight. Hiking helps you achieve the daily dosage of Vitamin D as you’ll have to remain in the sunlight for a few hours.

Reduces the risk of many ailments:

Hiking regularly provides a thorough exercise that lowers the risk levels of blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes, and even anxiety. Hence, keeping yourself healthy and active improves the lifespan of any person.

Helps in reducing weight:

Hiking is all about inclusivity; a person’s weight or age doesn’t matter. Obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney and liver disease, and type 2 diabetes. Obesity is a major health issue in America but it can be tackled by dieting and taking regular hikes.

While it’s different for different people, a person with an average BMI burns approximately 250 – 500 calories during just one hour of hiking.

Mental Health

Builds social relationships:

Group hiking activities are quite common for a reason. While having a buddy system ensures safety, it also encourages longer and deeper personal relationships.

Encountering and solving problems while going on long hikes strengthens the bond you share with your companions. This results in a better and happier life.

A break from boring exercise routines:

If you think hiking will eventually get monotonous, think again. There are so many ways that makes a trail interesting. Apart from the scenery, you need to focus on the path itself especially when you choose tougher trails.

You also set your own exercise regime where you could be jogging on gentler slopes, conquering steeper tracks, or cycling your way around the trail. You get to go slower or faster without an overbearing fitness trainer constantly pushing you to do better. You are your own boss.

Hiking lowers stress levels:

Stress can wreak havoc on any person’s health. Depression, anxiety attacks, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity are some of the long-term effects of having too much stress. Luckily, studies have shown that exercising, nuturing social connections, and laughing are some of the best ways to reduce stress and its long-term side effects.

Hiking with a group of friends or family would probably have all three factors and, thus, help you reduce stress.

Hiking promotes positive thought:

If you often find yourself being negative, you should try hiking. Staying close to nature and exercising releases endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine. All these chemicals are responsible for that energetic, positive, and warm feeling you experience after a heavy workout.

Hiking helps produce the same chemicals and being around nature leaves you feeling happy and positive.

Hiking is beneficial to all people, thin or fat, young or old. Hiking helps you reach the fittest you may have ever been – both physically and mentally. It helps in reducing the risk of many ailments while increasing the chance to fight off diseases.

The best part is that there are many national parks to choose from. Especially when you’re beginning, take a hiking buddy with you and choose a shorter and simpler trail. You can always work your way towards tougher trails. Use trekking poles when you take on challenging trails.

Remember to carry energy drinks, water, some healthy snacks, your phone, and wear a good pair of footwear. So, what are you waiting for? Get your supplies, put on those boots, and just go on a hike.

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