So I did my first hike just a few days after landing in NZ. Chris and I climbed up another mountain at Lake Wanaka called Rocky Mountain. The hike was shorter at 775 m but was steeper and more winding than Mt Grey.
Needless to say these few hikes have inspired my motivation to climb up other mountains but it also got me thinking what the benefits are. I’m certainly a bit sore the next day… but is it good for me? Are there benefits?
Here are 10 reasons how hiking can benefit you!
#1 Vitamin D
First off hiking unlike working out in the gym or even at home, it gets you outdoors, you’re breathing in fresh air and you essentially become one with nature. You’re out in the sun and in just 10 minutes you can get daily dose of Vitamin D. Vitamin D of course is important for calcium absorption which in turns builds strong bones and teeth.
#2 Make it a hobby
Incorporate your exercise into a hobby! When your exercise becomes a hobby you’re more likely to stick to it, enjoy it more and in return enjoy all the benefits as if you were working out in a gym. If you’re anything like me, this is more than a bonus for getting outside.
#3 Makes you happy
Being outside in the fresh air alone will lift you mood. The scenery and atmosphere will help to relieve stress and help you unwind mentally. The great thing about hiking is that it is recommended to hike with a buddy making it a great opportunity to socialize with others and keep each other motivated
#4 Total body workout
Walking alone can help tone your body but using inclines and declines challenges your body just a little bit more. You may feel it mostly in your gluts, quads and hammies but it works your core as well. Trekking poles gives a little extra resistance to your arms and carrying packs tests your upper body strength.
#5 Weight loss
Hiking can burn on average 500 calories in an hour. The more you weigh the more calories you lose. It’s a great alternative for weight loss since the trails are much softer on your joints especially compared to running on concrete which can be quite harsh on your body.
#6 Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
Exercise in general helps decrease blood pressure and cholesterol. This in turn lowers the risk of heart disease which is the number 1 cause of death in the world. Exercise allows the heart to pump more blood throughout the body which allows you to function more efficiently and reduces the risk of heart disease.
#7 Helps prevent and control diabetes
When you’re hiking your hearts beating faster, you’re breathing a little harder and your muscles are using more glucose (the sugar in your bloodstream). As your body uses more glucose the blood sugar levels decrease, insulin sensitivity increases which helps your body use that glucose (sugar) for energy. This is what helps prevents or controls diabetes.
#8 Increases energy
Hiking challenges your body to work a little harder, in a good way. Aerobic exercises lke hiking brings in more oxygen which fuels your body. Its keeps your muscles and lungs strong. The more you hike your body gets stronger and your indurance just keeps getting better. As you get stronger your energy levels keep going up!
#9 Bone density
Hiking is a weight bearing exercise as you work against gravity. Your bones actually start to grow denser and over time become stronger reducing bone loss and reducing the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis.
#10 Improve balance
You don’t have to be an ultimate yogi to go hike and in turn hiking wont turn you into one either.. obviously… but because some trails can get pretty steep, very narrow or rocky your balance increases significantly as your trek through staying on route!
Next time someone tells you to take hike, get those boots on and start climbing! It only benefits for your health!
*If you have existing conditions or health concerns make sure to check with your doctor before exercising.