What makes hiking one of the most popular outdoor activities is accessibility. People of all demographics and backgrounds can share this one activity. It has a very cheap entry cost, (often you already have all the equipment and clothing needed). Like other activities the more you dive into it the more you can spend on making it more comfortable but for the average hiker looking for some new views and some fresh air, there is no real cost. Location is also not a restriction for most people. Sure some of us are lucky to live in locations that have an abundance of scenic trails, but where ever you are living, you can usually find a decent place to take a walk within a short distance.
Why Do IT?
Everyone of you who took the time to click on this link will most likely know that taking a hike can make you feel good. You may be surprised to find out just how good it an be for your well being though. Anyone who is healthy enough to take a short hike is in a position to improve their health. You do not need to be in great shape to begin hiking, and hiking can be a great tool to get in great shape.
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Improves lung function
- Reduces risk of CHD and strokes
- Can help maintain a healthy weight
- Reduces risk of high blood pressure
- Increases bone density, or slows the loss of bone density in some osteo diseases.
- Reduces depression symptoms
- Improves sleep quality
- Reduces risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
- Promotes healthy cholesterol levels
- Reduces stress
- Creates great social and family connections
- Too many more physical, mental and positive benefits to list here...
How Far is Enough?
All these benefits with the added bonus of being a very enjoyable activity. Positive changes in health occur after short durations at moderate intensity as long as it happens on a regular and often. as little as 2 1/2 hours a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity is enough to improve health in meaningful ways. Recent studies have shown that 3 x 10 minutes a day is as good as 30 minutes once a day which is manageable for even the busiest of us. Moderate intensity is as you perceive it on the day. Listen to you body and use a simple exertion test to determine if you are in the right exercise zone to reap health benefits. If you have no trouble holding conversation but would have difficulty singing then you are probably in a good workout zone. If you can sing with ease then it may be too easy for you and while it is still better than sitting at a desk or couch, you could be getting more rewards for your time. If speaking is difficult and its easier nod, gesture or single word responses to conversation are happening then you may be in an anaerobic state and you will be unlikely to maintain this level long enough to attain all the benefits (and enjoyment) of hiking. The best hikes will edge you out of your comfort zone for brief periods, challenging your body but allowing ample recovery.
So get outside today.
Where is your favorite spot for hiking?