By now we all know that a walk in the outdoors is a healthy form of exercise. But what influence do the health benefits of hiking actually have on our bodies? And why? Hillwalk Tours had a look at the facts.
Exercise is beneficial for basically every aspect of our bodies, but a daily 30 minute-session of running requires a lot of motivation, effort and willpower.
A short walk outside or a regular hike will seem more fun
On top of that, it’s easier to undertake for most people.
Fortunately, research shows that the health benefits of hiking and walking provide us with much of the same as running – and in some cases even more!
The Benefits of Hiking – Mental Aspects
Clear Your Mind
Hiking through a natural environment is more effective than simply taking a stroll through the city.
While any sort of walking certainly has physical health benefits, walking through nature has the addition of mental health benefits.
Hiking in a countryside environment offers increased mental benefits over walking through built-up areas.
In addition, hiking seems to reduce the effect of the part of your brain that brings about bad moods.
Boost Your Brain
You don’t need to be suffering from mental health issues to receive a hike-induced boost for the brain.
Research shows that people who spend more time in nature, and less time with technology, are up to 50% more creative when it comes to problem-solving tasks.
Moreover, regular walkers and hikers have a better memory than those who don’t go out in to nature that often.
Regular closeness to nature can even restore cognitive functions, like memory and focus.
Improve Your Outlook
Rumination is the tendency that some people have to over-analyse their own negative emotions and experiences.
One of the benefits of hiking is that it reduces the likelihood that one will over-think these experience.
The diverse scenery of forests, mountains, streets and beaches is a lot more fascinating than the walls of the average gym, so it’s not hard to imagine that a walk through nature – or even the park – makes us feel so much happier.
Unplug From The World
Hiking provides a welcome break from the feeling of always being ‘switched-on’.
We’re constantly staring at screens and checking our phones, always plugged in to the network of the world.
Wandering where there is no WiFi can really help to relieve the effects of the mental fatigue that technology inevitable brings.
The Physical Aspects
Walk To Lose Weight
Many people state ‘losing weight’ as one of their main reasons to commit to exercise.
An intensive walk through a hilly environment can burn up to 500 calories an hour – in some cases more than a run through flat city surfaces.
Also, the ups and downs of a mountainous landscape require all muscles to play their part, resulting in a natural full-body workout.
Increase Your Strength
Hiking increases your strength because it is a weight-bearing activity.
It encourages stronger bone structure and density, as well as defining the muscles in your legs.
Your core also becomes more developed as your balance improves from jumping from rock to rock.
A Hiker’s Heart
Hiking is – more than running – suitable for any age and any level of physical fitness.
For elderly people, outdoor activities like walking and hiking reduce the chance of strokes and coronary heart disease; children are less likely to suffer diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity if they start hiking from a young age.
Regular walkers show a higher chance of survival of almost all serious illnesses that are common in today’s western society, including cancer.