Hiking regularly, or 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 outdoor pursuits.
- Hiking reduces your chances of heart disease.
- Hiking on a regular basis can lower your 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 a 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. It’s also effective at reducing stress and relieving anxiety.
- Hiking improves muscle fitness.
- Hiking lower your risk of high cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Hiking can lower your 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.