Health Benefits of Hiking

Health Benefits of HikingWhat are the health benefits of hiking?  From when I was a young child, I have always loved the outdoors.  I would trek through the woods around my house.  I was in the Boy Scouts and loved the weekends we would go hiking.  The scenery, the vistas, mountains and valleys, they all were beautiful.  But, I never really thought of how these adventures were helping my mental attitude and my physical condition.  That is until now.

Physical and Mental Benefits:

  • Weight Reduction: As with any physical exercise, hiking can help with weight reduction.  A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 34% of adult Americans are obese.  Another prediction by Harvard researchers based upon data from a Framingham study forecasts that the number will rise to 42% over the next 40 years.
  • Sunlight: (“walk into the light, children” ~ Poltergeist) Your body, when exposed to sunlight, will produce vitamin D.  Vitamin D helps build bone as well as helping your immune system.  Sunlight can also help your mode by increasing serotonin levels.  Serotonin improves your mood and can help decrease depression.
  • Bone Development: While hiking, each step produces the piezoelectric effect, which helps pull calcium and other important minerals into the bone.  This can help diminish the risks of osteoporosis.
  • Prevention of Heart Disease: Regular exercise can help prevent heart disease as well as decrease high blood pressure.
  • Mental State: A study produced by MIND, a British non-profit organization, showed that by hiking outside, there was a 71% decrease in depression.  It also revealed a 90% increase in self-esteem of the participants.  Finally, 88% claimed an improved mood after hiking.
  • Cholesterol and Blood Sugar: An interesting study by Vorarlberg Institute for Vascular Investigation and Treatment showed that by hiking uphill, you decreased your LDL  (bad) cholesterol levels as well as your triglyceride level.  But, what was even more interesting is by walking downhill, your body was improving its glucose tolerance and removed a great amount of blood sugars.

Hiking over the past few years has become more popular.  Maybe it’s the getting back to nature or it could be because of the low cost.  In either case, the health benefits of hiking cannot be ignored.  They are numerous.  So, instead of walking on the treadmill, figuratively and in life, find a trail and improve your health.

Sources: www.fitsugar.com , www.miller-mccune.com, www.empowher.com,

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.