What do you think of when you hear the word hiking? Is it an activity that involves rocky terrain, streams and mountains or just an easy stroll around a park or nature’s conservatory with friends and family members?
When I hear hiking I think of both options, it can involve hard challenging terrain, streams, lakes or even boulders you have to climb over, on unmarked trails but it also involves walking around a parks and paved paths as long as you are gaining new experiences and examining what nature is giving us in our surroundings. Since I personally do not like running or going to a exercise class on a regular basis, hiking gives me the opportunity to stay healthy and in shape, while also having fun with friends and family.
Some recent studies in the Good Hiker’s Blog, shows hiking can not only keep you in shape but can lead 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
- Increased bone density or a slower loss of density
- 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)
- Decrease stress
So how do you define hiking, is it strictly Wikipedia’s way, “an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain” or something completely different? And what are some of the benefits it has on you?
“Hiking exercises your body and your mind, and nourishes your imagination, It creates awareness in your eyes and ears and the rest of your senses.” – Ignacio Malpica, a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer in Boulder, Colorado.