The Research Proves that Hiking is Good for your Health

health-hikerWe all know the value of exercise. It should be an important part of our every day routine, yet so few of us get up out of that arm chair. The TV, phone, computer or other digital device seem to take precedence over any other form of exercise.  All you really have to do is get up and go for a walk, a healthy hour or two outside does you good. But sometimes walking the neighborhood just gets a little too boring. That’s when a hike can be a good thing.

Those of us who hike regularly are not at all surprised that the research backs up our own claims of how healthy it is.  My family have never joined a gym or taken any pricey classes.  We just hike, and we are all very healthy.  Hiking offers a great way of communing with nature, of meditating, thinking and solving those little life problems. But now you know what? You don’t have to take my word for it, there is now plenty of research out there that boasts of the benefits of waking and hiking. These are the findings.

Hiking is Good For You

Researchers now say that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise like spinning or running.  Moderate exercise, like walking or hiking produces the same results. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, set by the US Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as that involved in walking each week. Yet a recent 2013 report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that fewer than half of U.S. adults meet these recommendations.  Let’s face it walking along the sidewalk can be boring, but take a hike in a beautiful national park and that’s another story.  Hiking motivates you to exercise more, it makes you feel healthier, more energetic and happier.

It Gets Those Endorphins Working

Psychologically, hiking is good because the hiker gets to make all of the decisions; what trail to take, what course to follow, how fast to go etc.  There is no one demanding anything more or less from you. And best of all the physical activity produces endorphins which are known to make you happier. When you exercise in a group, there is an increase in endorphins (the feel-good chemical in your body.)  Some hikers go solo, but we have always hiked with each other, with our children or sometimes with friends.  The researchers say that outdoor exercise is the best for increasing your mood.  Less tension, depression and anger, as well as increased energy overall.

Hiking Offers a Full Body Workout

If you carry a pack, you will get a whole-body workout from hiking.  Your legs, for sure, but also the rest of your body. Hiking with a backpack is like weight lifting so you give all those muscles a good pull.

Bottom Line

Like I said, none of this is really any surprise to hikers.  We already knew all of it! But best of all you get to do your exercise and enjoy the view while hiking. Hikers get to experience visual candy very few people in the world get to see. A hiker and a meditation guru have the same levels of concentration because hiking like meditation helps you concentrate on yourself. It makes you focus and that focus helps you come to an understanding of the problem, issue or concern you currently have.