It should come as no surprise that hiking offers many health benefits (see here). It is, after all, a form of exercise. Hiking enthusiasts have long proclaimed its benefits for everything from weight loss to the prevention of osteoporosis. On top of all of this anecdotal evidence, many studies have now been done to confirm what avid hikers have long known. Let’s take a look at what some of these many benefits are.
1. Weight loss
Walking is a great form of cardio, especially for people who find it uncomfortable to jog or run because of conditions such as arthritis. Hiking trails provide a variety of uphill walking, downhill walking, and walking over varied terrain. You don’t even need to overexert yourself in order to reap the benefits. Hiking at a comfortable pace can still burn 240 – 370 calories an hour.
2. Diabetes prevention and control
Studies have shown that hiking can help to lower your risk of Type II diabetes, and that it can help manage the condition of those who already have diabetes. Though hiking is not a cure for those suffering from Type I diabetes, it can help reduce the amount of insulin that you need. Hiking, along with a good diet and overall healthy lifestyle, can actually contribute to the reversal of Type II diabetes.
3. Arthritis relief
It may be hard for those who suffer from arthritis, especially in the knees, to even think about hitting the hiking trail. The problem is that staying still and not moving your joints will only make the problem worse. Hiking can help to strengthen other leg muscles, taking the pressure off the knees. There are many easy hiking trails with beautiful scenery, allowing you to slowly start building your muscles while taking your mind off the pain.
4. Prevention of heart disease
As hiking is a form of cardio-vascular exercise, it goes a long way to improving the health and strength of your heart. Studies have long shown that regular exercise, especially walking, reduces the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, hiking increases the amount of “good cholesterol” in your body. Good cholesterol serves to keep harmful cholesterol away from your arteries.
5. Prevention of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones become porous and brittle. It mostly affects older women who, because they do not have sufficient calcium, have a lower bone density. Hiking will not only help to prevent osteoporosis, but can reverse it as well. Hiking will slow down the rate at which your body loses calcium, making your bones stronger and healthier.
Do you love hiking? Do you know any other health benefits of hiking that I should have added to my list? Share them please!