Health Benefits of Hiking and How to Get Started

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If you are looking for a new way to get outside and get fit, hiking is an excellent activity the whole family can enjoy. Hiking offers plenty of perks including fresh air, scenic views, relaxing sounds and smells of nature, as well as, health benefits.

Health benefits of hiking.
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Health Benefits of Hiking

Hiking is an extremely powerful cardio workout. Cardio training is an excellent way to lower your risk of heart disease and is a great weight-bearing exercise that can help boost your bone density and build muscle mass.

Hiking builds strength in a number of areas including your hips, lower legs, glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. It also helps strengthen your core and improves balance. The cardio aspects of hiking can even help improve your blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Aside from the physical health benefits, research has shown that it has a positive impact on reducing stress and anxiety. If you need a boost of happiness – hiking is an excellent way to get exercise and improve your mood.

How to Get Started

For beginners, find some local hiking trails that have simple terrain and not a lot of hills. Getting started with easier trails will give you a good idea of how long of a hike you can endure and will help build you up to tougher terrain.

Even small hills can intensify your heart rate and help you burn extra calories. Once you are comfortable, gradually work yourself up to larger hills or tougher terrain. If you want to add more challenge to your workout, add some weight. Take along a day-pack loaded with about 10-15 pounds of water and you’ll boost your calorie burn by 10%-15% while strengthening your back muscles.

What You’ll Need

Be sure to study the trail map and take along a photo or printed map with you. Always check the weather and dress appropriately. On extremely hot days, or if stormy weather is expected, you should wait for a safer time to head for the hills.
Take plenty of water and wear appropriate footwear. I cannot emphasize keeping hydrated enough. Hundreds of people are rescued each year due to becoming dehydrated while hiking. Take plenty of water with you and stop for breaks to rehydrate and rest.
You should also invest in good hiking poles. Losing your footing can cause you to get injured and hiking poles can prevent that. Stay on marked trails to avoid becoming lost which is also important in the event you become injured. Rescue teams and other hikers will find you more quickly if you stick to the trails!