How Hiking Makes You Happier and Healthier
Hiking can be far more than just a satisfying hobby. While it’s a great way to experience nature and get yourself outdoors, it’s actually very beneficial to your overall health. If you do it regularly, hiking can make you happier and healthier in many ways. Here are some of the health benefits that hiking offers:
Better Heart Health
Most kinds of exercise are good for heart health, and hiking is no exception. It's been shown to reduce blood pressure, while giving your entire cardiovascular system a good workout. However, an advantage of hiking is that it it's a low-impact activity which protects your muscles and bones as well as providing benefits for your heart.
Helps Type 2 Diabetes
Hiking is a natural way of lowering blood sugar levels through sustained, low-intensity exercise. This makes it a great way of controlling type 2 diabetes, especially when blood glucose levels stay stubbornly high through stress or illness.
However, be sure to keep an eye on your glucose levels while out hiking, so you can take emergency action to boost blood sugar if you need to.
Reduces Cancer Risk
Hiking is associated with a lower the risk of many cancers. It's not clear exactly why this is, but several studies have suggested a connection.
For example, research by the American Cancer Society showed that women who hike are 25% less likely to develop breast cancer.
Whether this is a direct benefit of hiking or the result of an all-round healthy lifestyle, the statistics speak for themselves.
Frequent hiking increases your physical endurance. This helps you keep your energy levels up throughout the day, whatever activity you're engaged in.
Bones and Muscles
Hiking gently strengthens your physique, including your bones and muscles. This reduces general aches and pains and is especially helpful for relieving chronic back pain. It's also thought that hiking reduces the risks of developing osteoporosis later in life.
Increases Vitamin D
Time spent outdoors increases the body's natural production of vitamin D. This essential nutrient can't be absorbed from food, but is created by exposing your skin to sunlight. Without enough vitamin D, you'll feel tired, lethargic, full of aches and pains, and even depressed.
Clears Your Mind
Hiking gives you better mental health in other ways too. It's a way of taking your mind off your worries, and is excellent for reducing stress and anxiety. It also gives your subconscious time to work on problems in the background, often bringing solutions out of the blue.
Add to this the mood-boosting effects of spending time surrounded by nature, and hiking is a valuable part of keeping a positive mental balance in turbulent times.
Lastly, hiking is an extremely effective way of losing or controlling weight. It burns calories at a steady pace, while providing an enjoyable activity that's far removed from grueling hours in the gym.
Whether you take hiking seriously with day-long treks in the wilderness or just enjoy a regular walk in the woods, all these benefits quickly add up. For most people, life is much happier and healthier when hiking plays a major part in it.