According to recent data, hiking is the most popular outdoor activity in the United States – and it’s easy to see why.
Hiking is accessible, as you can probably find a trail close to you no matter where you live. You don’t need much to start, and it is as simple as taking a walk in the woods.
There are also tons of health benefits of hiking, which is another excellent reason to get out on the trails.
If you think you may want to participate in this activity, read below to learn the benefits that you could be reaping.
1. Improves Heart Health
Hiking is great for the heart, especially if you are going up steep inclines. Even if you aren’t, it can improve heart health because it is a cardiovascular exercise, which means it increases your heart rate while your body works to supply it with oxygen.
When you do cardio exercise, you are increasing the blood flow to the vessels around your heart. These vessels can easily get clogged, and the increase in blood flow can decrease your risk of developing heart disease.
Hiking may not leave you feeling breathless like other high-intensity types of cardio, but it will benefit you nonetheless. You’ll experience different elevations, which require you to work your body harder than you would if you were taking a walk in a park.
2. Develops Strong Muscles
One of the best reasons to go hiking is to build stronger muscles. Hiking is a full-body workout, as it challenges different muscles in your body depending on the type of terrain and inclines you are hiking that day.
As you try different hiking trails and challenge yourself with various slope angles as well as inclines and declines, your hamstrings, glutes, calves, quads, hip flexors, abs, shoulders, arms, and back will all be challenged. If you wear a backpack, they will be even more so.
If you hike a trail with a steep ascent, you can expect to be sorer than you would with one that has a gradual incline. Yet, don’t be fooled. Any type of hiking will challenge your body and help to develop strong muscles.
3. Improves Balance
Among the more important hiking benefits is how it can help to improve your balance. As stated before, hiking will strengthen your core and hips, which is essential to help keep your feet steady and your body balanced.
Your feet can easily slip on uneven terrain or trails that have steep inclines and declines. The more you hike these trails, the more your body will develop a strong sense of balance.
If you’re a beginner hiker, start with easier trails and build yourself up. Once you feel ready, try a rocky and less even trail. You’ll be surprised how strong your ankles will get when walking on rough terrain.
4. Boosts Happiness Levels
Any time you do physical exercise, you boost your endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that make you feel good. This makes hiking an excellent option if you are feeling down or need to change your mood.
Hiking can boost your mood even more so than other physical exercise options because you are immersed in nature, which is a natural stress reliever.
So, the next time you feel sad or angry, look up the best places to hike and get yourself out there.
4. Builds Your Endurance
Because hiking is a more drawn-out activity, you can build your endurance the more you hike. While you are getting your heart rate pumping, you aren’t going to be out of breath as you would with an activity such as running or dancing.
This allows you to go hiking for hours, which helps to increase your stamina and build your endurance. If you are just starting, try an easier hiking trail that takes about an hour or so to complete.
As you build up your endurance, you can try longer loops or even go backpacking for a few days. The more you do it and the more you challenge yourself, the more your endurance will improve.
5. Improves Sleep Quality
Doing any type of physical activity will likely improve your sleep quality. Your muscles will be tired and ready to rest, allowing you to get good quality sleep regularly.
Besides tiring out your body though, hiking can improve your overall sleep quality, even on the days that you don’t hike.
When you surround yourself with nature and are exposed to less unnatural light from screens, your internal clock gets reset, which allows you to create a more natural sleep cycle.
6. Builds Bone Density
Once you become a more seasoned hiker and have all of your hiking gear, you can start attempting more intense hiking trails. When you do, you’ll help to increase your bone density.
High impact activities help to build bone density because they strengthen bone tissue. For this to work effectively, you need to be doing moderate to high-level trails, such as those with steeper inclines and declines.
If you think you’re ready to get out on the trails, find more information about Converse Run Star Hike to get started.
Explore the Health Benefits of Hiking
There are so many health benefits of hiking, so get out there and start searching for some hiking locations. It doesn’t take much to get started, and you could be a happier and healthier person in no time.
If you would like to explore more health-related articles, browse through our collection of blog posts.