Although not everyone’s cup of tea, hiking is fast becoming a popular pastime in a world that is becoming more and more technological and fast-paced.
Sometimes people just want to get away from the rat-race and experience nature at her purest. Hiking certainly allows this. Walking through mountains, valleys, lush lakes and streams have now been proven to not only increase fitness but to heal our minds!
To help you understand why, we thought we should delve a little deeper.
We all know the feeling of dreading another long-distance run or 50 lengths of the pool. Hiking may just be the answer. Far easier on your joints and much more relaxing, hiking is actually a fantastic cardio work out. Even if you only hike a couple of hours, your body becomes refreshed, your muscles and loosened and you burn roughly a 1000 calories! If on the other hand you decide to do a proper multi-day hike like the Everest Base Camp Trek or the Annapurna Circuit, you’ll be hiking 5-7 hours per day which will give you an incredible cardio workout. The benefit of all this cardio is weight loss, lower risk of heart disease and improved blood pressure.
If like many people, weight training is not your thing, then you might consider upping your hiking levels! Hiking up hills and mountains carrying backpacks greatly increases leg strength as you push up each set on our way to the summit. If you want a goal, then you consider setting a summit as your target such as Aconcagua or Kilimanjaro. Keeping your balance as you walk on the uneven ground also strengthens our core and back muscles significantly. This is a fantastic way of getting fit outside of the gym and taking in Mother Nature. It’s a good idea to wear a good pair of compression sleeves, and knee sleeves for prolonged hikes, to reduce recovery time and promote muscle growth further.
More recent studies are pointing to the ways in which hiking relieves stress. Through non-stenos cardio exercise, the mind becomes relaxed and invigorated, helping to relieve stress. Hiking is also a slow process, giving the mind time to think without all the surrounding distractions. Contemplation in serene surroundings is one of the key elements of a stress-free lifestyle.
Stimulate Your Creative Problem Solving
Psychologists from the University of Utah and Kansas have proven that hiking actually helps stimulate our creative problem-solving skills. Groups of hikers and non-hikers showed clear differences after testing which lead the psychologists to their conclusions. Hiking in serene nature without thought or technological distractions clearly allows the mind to breathe and to think more clearly.
Helps reduce ADHD in Children
With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on the rise, scientists have been working harder than ever to combat the disease. However, a recent study by Frances E Kup, Ph.D., and Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D. has actually proven that hiking reduces ADHD in young children, allowing them to focus on tasks for greater periods of time. The best bit, of course, is that it’s a natural cure! No pills or treatment necessary, just good old hiking through the hills.
Hiking reduces negative thoughts
Last but certainly not least, hiking has been proven to reduce our negative thought levels. Too good be true? Absolutely not. A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has proven that hiking does indeed reduce negative thoughts. The study compared people that hiked through urban environments compared to those who hiked through nature. The study clearly demonstrated a change in the neurological functions of the participants and showed a complete change for the nature hikers. This study could prove that a natural cure may be available for people suffering from certain cases of mental illness including depression and stress.
So there it is, hiking is a definite solution for a healthy mind and body! There’s no excuse, whether your male or female, young or old, hiking is nature’s cure. So get out there, plan an epic hike to Machu Picchu or Everest and begin your journey to a more healthy you.