Hiking regularly — making a hike a part of your regular exercise regimen — can have a dramatic impact on your physical and mental health. It’s something nearly everyone can do, and it’s a lifelong activity, something you can do long after your body has said no to more aggressive pursuits.
- Hiking reduces your chances of heart disease.
- Hiking on a regular basis can lower blood pressure by 4 to 10 points.
- A frequent walk in the woods can help reduce your chances of getting diabetes. If you already have the disease, hiking, combined with proper diet, can reduce or even eliminate the need for insulin therapy.
- As a weight-bearing exercise, hiking can help stave off osteoporosis.
- A regular exercise program centered around hiking, coupled with a sound diet, can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Depending upon your pace and other factors, you can burn up to 500 calories per hour hiking.
- A walk in the woods can clear your head — and that’s not us talking, that’s your endorphins, according to recent studies. Hiking is also effective at reducing stress and relieving anxiety.
- Hiking improves muscle fitness.
- Hiking lowers your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Hiking can lower the risk of colon and breast cancer.
- After a good hike you’ll sleep better.
Sources: American Heart Association, Diabetes Institute, WebMD.com, University of Southern California, American Cancer Society, National Sleep Foundation.