Thursday, June 20, 2024

Take a Hike: Reasons to Hit the Trails

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Are you looking for a fun, healthy and cost-effective way to get outside and enjoy nature? If so, taking a hike might be just the thing for you! Hiking offers a number of physical, emotional and mental benefits that you may not experience by simply enjoying nature from the comfort of home. Here are just a few of the reasons why hiking is a great activity for your health and wellbeing.

Benefits of Hiking on Your Physical Health 

Whether you are an experienced hiker or just starting out, there are numerous physical benefits that come from tackling the trails.

• Increased Heart Health – Spending time outdoors has been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension and heart attack, due to increased heart rate. Hiking helps to keep your heart rate up and allows you to take in fresh air.

• Burns Calories – While the number of calories burned while hiking depends on the length and intensity of the hike, it typically ranges between 300 to 600 calories per hour.

• Improved Balance – Many hiking trails ask you to maneuver over rocks, logs, and steep inclines, which require you to have good balance. Hiking is a great way to strengthen the muscles that support your balance, making it easier to jog, take the stairs, or stand up and down from a chair.

• Improved Strength – Hiking helps to build muscles in your calves, thighs, and glutes. Along with that, it helps to strengthen your bones due to all the weight-bearing activities such as jumping and stepping.

• Improved Flexibility – Hiking also helps to increase your flexibility by stretching out your muscles. Yoga is also recommended for better flexibility but can become monotonous over time, which is another advantage of hiking.

Benefits of Hiking Mentally 

In addition to the physical benefits of hitting the trails, hiking has several mental health benefits.

• Stress Relief – Being outdoors can help to reduce cortisol levels, which is associated with stress, leaving you feeling calmer and more relaxed.

• Improved Focus and Memory – Researchers have found that spending time outdoors is linked to improved mental focus and better memory. Hiking also allows you to experience new things and meet new people, which can help to keep your brain stimulated.

• Improved Self-Esteem and Mood – Studies have shown that spending time in nature has the ability to help people with depression and anxiety, as it some way can change their perspective and mental state, leading to improved self-esteem and a better outlook overall.

• Improved Creativity – This can be attributed to the same reasons listed above for improved memory and focus—being in nature and experiencing new things allows your mind to wander, which can increase creative thinking.

Tips For A Safe and Enjoyable Hike 

Now that you know the numerous benefits hiking can bring to your physical and mental wellbeing, here are a few tips for a safe and enjoyable hike.

• Wear Comfortable and Proper Gear – This is especially true for more intense hikes, as you’ll want to make sure your clothes are lightweight, breathable and allow for flexibility.

• Pack Smartly – Depending on the length and intensity of the hike, you will want to make sure you have the necessary gear. This might include snacks, water, a first aid kit, a phone and/or a map, sunblock, rain gear, and a headlamp.

• Stretch Before and After – You don’t have to be a yoga pro to stretch, but it will help to warm up your muscles before your hike and cool down afterward.

• Take Breaks – This is especially important for longer hikes, as it will help to keep up your energy levels and prevent injury.

• Stay On The Trail – This is a general hiking rule that should not be overlooked, as it will help to keep you from getting lost in the wilderness.

• Let Someone Know Where You’re Going – Whether you’re alone or with a group, it’s always a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to be back.

• Respect Wildlife – You’re no longer in your comfort zone, so remember to leave animals and nature as you found it. This means packing out any trash and not trying to get too close to the wildlife.

Hiking is a wonderful way to get outdoors and enjoy nature. Not only does it provide physical and mental benefits, but it can also be an affordable and rewarding experience. With the right knowledge and preparation, taking a hike can be not only fun, but also safe. So, what are you waiting for? Get outside and take a hike!

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