Hiking contributes to our overall levels of fitness and it's one of the biggest benefits. Although hiking might seem like a mild form of exercise, it is the perfect cardio activity, increasing your heart and respiratory rates as you work to supply your body with oxygen.
This increase can lower blood pressure and prevent future heart diseases.
Studies have shown that going on regular moderate hikes can significantly reduce hypertension, improve glucose tolerance, and decrease ‘bad’ cholesterol levels over time.
Walking for an hour a day five days a week, according to the CDC, can cut the risk of a person experiencing a stroke in half. Walking also strengthens the heart and gives a fantastic boost to our “good cholesterol” levels and lowers levels of LDL and triglyceride.
For a person who has Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes, walking can reduce the amount of insulin the person needs. A person with Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes can actually reverse the course of the disease through diet, exercise, and weight loss.
Hiking increases bone density. Which refers to the amount of bone mineral in your bones. This is important to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and prevent broken bones. Hiking helps to improve bone density by strengthening the bone tissue. In order to increase bone density with these activities, they need to be done at a moderate to high-level. For example, hiking uneven and stiff terrain in more beneficial than flat surfaces to build bone density.
There are many more benefits of hiking now we will explore further into the mental benefits.
“Leave the road, take the trails.” – Pythagoras
Apart from the endless physical benefits, here are some mental positive notes.
Research by Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that spending time outdoors increases our ability to focus, our attention spans, and our problem-solving skills by up to 50 percent. In a world filled with distractions and beeping noises, our ability to focus diminishes. Now more than ever, finding a way out of the mind-numbing world, this becomes one of the most insightful and profound impacts of hiking.
We get some fresh air, some much needed vitamin D, and disconnecting is a luxury nowadays. Combine this with the fact that Stanford University researchers found that participants gave more creative responses to questions when walking on a treadmill than those sat in a chair. Meaning it helps us focus, be more creative and be healthier altogether.
Hiking not only improves our creativity, it increases blood flow to the brain, improving the connection between neurons in the part of the brain in charge of memory and cognitive functions. Researchers found that older adults who exercised in short bursts had improved memory compared to those that didn’t.
Conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health difficulties, are more common than ever. New research has found that even a 90 minute walk in nature can have a dramatic effect on the brain, and the way we feel. Research already exists that indicates how a walk outside can provide an uplifting boost to our mood.
This suggests that hiking doesn’t just perk you up a bit; it actually changes the way your brain works, and draws focus away from negative, repetitive thoughts. There’s plenty more to be discovered, and these findings suggest that we’ve only just scratched the surface of the potential psychological benefits of hiking.
With all these amazing facts at hand, we can only start planning our next hiking adventure with our loved ones. Make sure to bring plenty of water, comfortable shoes and your favorite snacks. And if you ever visit Playa Samara, we can explore Samara Trails together and learn many fascinating facts, while pampering our body, mind and soul.
See you soon!