It’s hardly controversial to say that we live in a culture of excess. Obesity is at epidemic levels, diabetes not far behind and stress and depression are running rife. So we thought about how happy hiking makes us, and how walking weight loss could solve these problems, to come up with 5 trekking health benefits.
Most people who hit the trail do so because they love the outdoors. They enjoy being out in nature, exploring under their own steam and overcoming challenges. But there are other benefits to exploring the world – or just a park – on foot.
Trekking health benefits
Walking at its most basic is the most accessible physical activity on the planet. Nearly all of us do it everyday to one degree or another, and it requires no special equipment or a specific pitch, court or course to do it.
Taking it one step further and going for a hike in the countryside is also within reach of most of us. Let’s face it you just need appropriate footwear and clothing plus some water. As short hikes become longer you might want to invest in some hiking boots and a backpack, but it’s still relatively cheap to hit the trail.
Whether you go on a multi-day trek or a short stroll it’s good for both the mind and body. So here are 5 trekking health benefits you may not have realised:
Ever wondered by hiking makes you happy? Well a long term study by UK and US universities has proven that walking in natural places lowers depression, fights anxiety and has various other mental health benefits.
Of course you don’t have to be feeling down to benefit from taking a hike. Anyone that regularly gets out walking in the great outdoors will tell you it makes them feel good. That they return happy, fulfilled and in a more positive state of mind.
Stroll to stress relief
A recent survey of 2000 adults by ArtSupplies.co.uk found that our favourite way to reduce stress is walking. A whopping 43% of people in the survey said they go for a walk to help relieve stress, making it twice as popular as watching TV.
Even going out for a short stroll helps relieve stress. It is a great thing to do during your lunch break and helps you focus more in the afternoon. And longer distance hiking is often used to help fight depression and anxiety.
Walking weight loss
For many years, hikers have been arguing that brisk walking is the best exercise you can get. Hippocrates said that “Walking is man’s best medicine” so it’s hardly a new idea.
But a recent study seems to have backed up this Greek wisdom. They fiound that regular brisk walking is more effective for weight loss than going to the gym, playing football or playing rugby. Participants in the study that walked had lower BMI and waist sizes than those doing more conventional exercise.
Power walking at 60-65% heart rate can burn calories at the same rate as running, argues Professor Craig Williams of Exeter University. But the advantage that walking has over running is that it avoids stress to the joints – a serious drawback with high-impact sports.
But hitting the trail has many other health benefits that go beyond weight loss. A brisk hike is one of the best cardiovascular work-outs you can do. So hitting the trail will improve your fitness – as trekking health benefits go this is a huge one!
Hiking also helps to drain fluids that could form varicose veins and leisurely walking is recommended for varicose vein sufferers. Furthermore, the pumping action of a good hike generates minerals essential to spinal disc health, which high impact sports do not do.
And if you suffer from issues such as a flat feet or high arch, overpronation or underpronation, dodgy knees or hips then gear up correctly to overcome them. There are plenty of excellent shoes designed to overcome most issues, for example if you suffer with overpronation check out this article about the best footwear to correct it. Furthermore, using walking poles helps take pressure of knees and hips.
Above all walking is a hugely rewarding activity. When you reach the top of a climb, whether it’s a small hill or a big mountain you get a huge feeling of achievement. This leads to improved confidence and self esteem – when you overcome anything that you find difficult it massively boosts your self belief.
The beauty of walking is it’s a real leveller. Anyone in reasonable health can get out and enjoy the outdoors at their own pace. Young or old, rich or poor, experienced hiker or first timer, trekking health benefits are huge and really ought to be promoted more widely.
If happy hiking and walking weight loss have you wanting to hit the trail then check out our trekking discounts. Not only could you get healthier and happier but you could also save money.