Hiking is an easy, accessible way to get outside and explore nature while also providing yourself with a great workout. But what does hiking do to your body?
Does it have any health benefits? Does it help you lose weight or gain muscle?
In this article, we will look into the various ways that hiking can benefit your physical and mental health.
Let’s dive in.
What Does Hiking Do to Your Body?
Hiking is a great way to get in shape and improve your cardiovascular health. Not only can it help you lose weight, but it also helps increase your heart rate and blood flow.
When you go for a hike, your body is working hard as you climb hills or traverse trails at a brisk pace. Your heart rate increases as your muscles work harder to pump more oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
As this happens, your lungs expand more than usual in order to take in additional oxygen from the air around you. The increased oxygen intake helps keep your heart healthy by strengthening its muscles and improving circulation.
Physical activity is known to be beneficial for heart health, as it strengthens the heart muscle and helps keep blood vessels healthy.
Hiking provides an aerobic workout that increases oxygen intake and gets your heart rate up.
This is important because higher levels of physical activity are associated with lower levels of cholesterol, improved circulation, enhanced metabolism, and lowered blood pressure.
Additionally, extended hikes in nature can reduce stress levels which can be beneficial for reducing hypertension risk factors such as anxiety, anger, depression and fatigue.
Strength and Endurance
Not only does hiking challenge your endurance and stamina, but it also strengthens various muscle groups in the body that are used for balance, agility, and coordination. Additionally, it can help build strength in areas such as the core, back, legs, and glutes.
Hiking increases muscle strength through activities such as uphill climbing or carrying a heavy pack. This challenges the muscles to work harder than they normally would when simply walking on flat terrain. Furthermore, hiking encourages your muscles to move in multiple planes of motion (forward/backward/sideways) which helps increase flexibility while strengthening them at the same time.
Related: Hiking Benefits for Legs
Not only can it be an enjoyable form of physical activity, but hiking has also been proven to help maintain weight loss in both men and women. The combination of cardiovascular endurance, muscle-strengthening, and calorie-burning benefits make hiking a great tool for those looking to manage their weight.
When you hike, you are working against gravity and terrain which makes your body work harder than if you were walking at a regular pace on the flat ground.
This increased effort further helps burn calories while providing additional health benefits such as improved circulation, stronger muscles and bones, heightened mental focus and concentration, increased energy levels and reduced stress levels.
Improved Mental Health
Hiking is a great way to improve mental health. It can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. By engaging in physical activity outdoors, hikers increase their levels of endorphins, neurotransmitters that act as natural painkillers and improve mood. This can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression while increasing overall happiness.
Furthermore, hiking has the potential to help clear the mind of negative thoughts and emotions due to its calming environment which often requires little physical or emotional effort.
Taking in the sights and sounds of nature, breathing fresh air, and listening to birds chirping—these activities can be incredibly soothing for people dealing with stress or anxious thoughts.
Related Post: Spiritual Benefits of Hiking