Sometimes getting ourselves to the gym can be a redundant routine which we may eventually begin to loath. Hiking is a great alternative if you need a change in scenery or are seeking a little adventure. What’s not to love about the great views, fresh air, and sounds of nature? And even better, there’s physiological benefits to hiking!
Head for the Hills
Hiking is a great cardio workout. These are just some of the health benefits you can expect:
- Lower risk of heart disease, improved blood pressure, and blood sugar regulation
- Bone density increases with weight bearing exercise so pack on a few extra pounds if you’re up for the challenge.
- If you’re looking to build lower body strength, hiking uphill especially will work everything from your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings through your hips and lower leg muscles.
- Improved core strength and balance
- Better weight control and mood regulation
Step Up to the Challenge
Let yourself out of the squatting cage and leave those dumbbells at home. There are plenty of natural tools around us if you are looking for that extra challenge for a good workout.
- Grab yourself a hiking stick— This is a great technique to help increase upper body strength simply by applying a little pressure into the ground to propel yourself forward.
- Raise the altitude— Gregory A. Miller, PhD, president of the American Hiking Society, states that a 5% to 10% incline can equate to a 30% to 40% calorie burn increase.
- Add some variety— Uneven terrain allows you to target different muscles you may not be hitting otherwise, while also requiring more balance and stability.
- Weigh yourself down— Packing on a few extra pounds can boost your calorie burn by at least 10% and help target those lower back muscles.
Even though it seems that we have everything we need at our fingertips with today’s technology, it is important to have reliable backups just in case. Follow these guidelines to make sure you make it back home safe from your journey:
- Map it out— You never know when you are going to lose GPS-service and the last thing you want is to get lost somewhere unfamiliar.
- Let the sun be your guide— It is much easier to get lost in the dark and less friendly wildlife will typically to lurk around at night.
- Know your surroundings— Research different animals, insects, poisonous plants, and any other concerns you can anticipate in the area.
- Bring a friend— Accidents happen so have someone there to catch you if you fall. Hiking can also be a great bonding experience and memory-making opportunity with loved ones.
Written by GUADS intern Joe with contributions from webmd.com, and active.com.