Generally, when someone tells you to “take a hike,” it isn’t meant for your health, but it’s truly a heart healthy activity! Good Hiker.com explains, that for adults and kids, regular aerobic exercise such as hiking leads to:
- Improved cardio-respiratory fitness (heart, lungs, blood vessels)
- Improved muscular fitness
- Lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
- Lower risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
- Lower risk of high cholesterol and triglycerides
- Lower risk of colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung and endometrial cancer
- Reduced depression and better quality sleep
- Lower risk of early death (If you are active for 7 hours a week, your risk of dying early is 40% lower than someone active for less than 30 minutes a week.)
- Weight control; hiking burns up 370 calories an hour (154-lb person)
A Fact Sheet of the American Hiking Society lists similar benefits, including:
- Slowing the Aging Process
- Improving and Maintaining Mental Health
- Improving the Quality of the Air We Breathe
- Preventing the Common Cold and Flu
- Relieving Back Pain
- Establishing Healthy Habits for a Healthy Life
Start with easy hikes and work your way up.
Hiking exercises almost every part of your body, plus there’s something therapeutic about being outdoors in the presence of nature. The more you hike the more you are in-tune with the environment around you, which offers benefits for mind, body and spirit.
Another plus: you don’t have to be in perfect shape to start, and you don't even need a trail to walk; simply walking around your neighborhood can be equally as effective as going to a park. The experts say if you’re 35 or older and have been inactive for several years, or you already have a condition such as high blood pressure, check with your doctor. For more information on hiking, click here.