Hiking | Definition & 11 Benefits of Hiking

What Really is Hiking?

Hiking is a long, robust walk, usually on trails or footpaths in the countryside or hillside. Walking for pleasure was developed in Europe during the 18th century. It’s a great way to get outside, be fresh, move your body, and explore new places.  Hiking can also be taken as an adventurous activity of average difficulty, that often involves walking across long distances generally on trails or paths. Usually, the duration of hikes varies between short 1/2-day programs and longer itineraries of over 15 days.

The best part of hiking is that it allows people of all age groups. Not only exploring new places, but hiking is also good from a health perspective. In fact, hiking has many physical and mental health benefits.

11 Benefits of Hiking

Most effective 11 Benefits of Hiking

We already discussed what hiking is and the age groups it suits. Now, let’s have a look at the health benefits of hiking. There are numerous health benefits of hiking in the woods. It is not possible to consider all but, 11 Benefits of Hiking are discussed below:

Hiking is good for the Heart

Hiking has already been proven to be a good option for cardiovascular health by Harvard Medical School. The matter of fact is that even the lightest hikes can bring heart rates to a normal level which then helps to improve people’s aerobic acceptance and fitness. If you are a beginner in the hiking world, you feel fatigued or out of breath even after a short hike but over time, your body adapts to new fitness levels and you can hike longer and faster without feeling out of breath or as fatigued.

Hiking Improves Balance

As we get older, it is really important to keep working on balance in order to prevent falls. Hiking is a fun way to improve balance in the body while spending time in the outdoors, having fun, exploring new places, and being connected to nature.

As we know there is not a plain trail while hiking, we have to walk or hike over uneven terrain which leads your leg and core muscles to contract and constantly engage to provide stability and improve balance. It is also possible to improve the balance of the body as the stabilizing muscles of the core strengthen over time

Hiking Helps to Lose Weight

Losing weight has always been troublesome for people around the globe. Hiking can be a great way if you do want to lose weight. The number of calories burned during a hike depends on a lot of factors such as gender, weight, and aerobic intensity, but if you’re just starting out, even light hiking can result in gradual weight loss. It not only helps to lose weight but also rejuvenates your soul. So, if losing weight is one of your goals in life you must choose hiking so that you can lose weight while having fun.

Hiking Helps to Tone Your Body

Hiking helps to build stabilizing muscles in the legs and core to improve balance in the body. It also strengthens other muscles of the body including the back and arms. As a matter of fact, it is one of the best physical health benefits as itis an appreciable exercise for almost every major muscle group in the body. Walking/Hiking uphill engrosses the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quads while walking/hiking downhill engrosses the hips, core and ankles. For this reason, toning one’s body is also one of the 11 benefits of hiking.

Hiking Reduces Anxiety and Stress

Associated with the benefits of lowering stress levels, various types of research and studies have proven that hiking helps to reduce anxiety. In today’s world, mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, and stress have been a part of everyday life for many people. But spending time in nature can help bring us back to the present and evoke a sense of calm and peace in people’s hectic life schedules.

Forest bathing is a good example. The Japanese practice involves taking a walk or hiking in the woods to reconnect with nature and disconnect from the digital world and hectic lifestyle. Spending time in nature can evoke, ‘ a reduced sense of self-importance relative to something larger and more powerful,’ according to Paul Piff, assistant professor of psychology and social behaviour at UC Irvine.

This feeling can melt away stress, and anxiety and invoke a more optimistic outlook on life. A Stanford-led study has found quantifiable evidence that walking in nature leads to a lower risk of depression and anxiety.

Hiking Improves Self-esteem

According to a 2010 study, even five minutes of outdoor exercise can lead to you feeling more confident and capable. So you can imagine how you’ll feel after a hike. Hiking can lead you to feel stronger, more capable, independent and feel awesome. Hiking improves and increases one’s self-esteem. It is a well-known fact that supports the notion of connecting with nature which improves mental health and wellbeing.

Hiking Can Relieve Insomnia and Improves Sleep

Many studies on the benefits of hiking have shown that regular exercise can help dull insomnia and improve sleep patterns. Walking/climbing/hiking over uneven terrain uses 28% more energy than walking over flat ground.

So, if you need a good night’s sleep, hiking can be the best option. Trust me, really helps you to improve your sleep.

Hiking Improves Memory and Brain Function

While hiking, blood flows to the brain, carrying with it oxygen and important nutrients. Many studies have shown that this increased blood flow improves connections between neurons in the parts of the brain that are in charge of memory and cognitive function. Researchers found that older adults who exercised or even walked in short bursts had improved memory compared to those that didn’t exercise or even walk.

We think we are too busy and living a hectic life schedule with work to go hiking. Science shows that getting exercise, especially outside, can help our focus and improve our ability to process information and also improves our memory power. It really helps to function the brain well. So separate time for even a short hike if you really want to improve your memory.

Hiking Builds Community

Hiking is a great way to build community. Not only does it help to build up new friendships, but group activities provide social support and can offset feelings of doubt, worry, or fear.

If you’re not sure where or how to find hiking partners, there are plenty of online resources, hiking clubs, and organizations like “HikeNepal” that host group hikes and outings. Many people having the same mindset or people belonging to different ethnic groups can meet up and build a strong community through hiking.

Hiking Helps to Enjoy Being Yourself

A hike is a chance to reconnect, recharge and reflect with yourself when you’ve been too busy to take notice. In a very busy and hectic schedule of our life, sometimes just taking out some time and tuning and having some moments to yourself can help you identify your inner feeling. You can have your “ME” time with yourself which is very rare nowadays. People are running after their jobs, studies, and careers but they are not having time for themselves. So, hiking provides a chance to reconnect and take time for oneself.

Hiking Teaches People to Live at Present

When was the last time you concentrated on being truly present in the moment? The amazing simplicity of moving out into nature helps erase that barrier between you and the purely natural environment as everything is up close and real. You live being truly present in the moment. For this reason, learning to live at present is also one of the 11 benefits of hiking.

There is a lot of research that tells us hiking is good for us. Hiking also gives us a chance to be familiar with many customs, lifestyles, art, culture, etc. We get fresh air, see beautiful scenes and views, take on new experiences in life and get to learn many new things. Also, there is a great saying to highlight the benefits of hiking ‘Leave the roads and take the trails.’

Happy Hiking Folks!

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