filed under: health and social benefits
Hiking is widely recognized as one of the healthiest hobbies anyone can have, and for a good reason too. When we break it down to plain physics, walking activates most muscle groups, which not only keeps us in shape but also conditions us to become more resilient to all bodily ailments and harms.
With the emphasis being put on the physical benefits, there are so many things that people overlook when it comes to the benefits of hiking, such as losing weight, becoming more attuned with nature, and finally, refining your affinity towards survivalism and self-reliance.
Today we’re going to talk about the three hidden health benefits of hiking, as well as the reasons why you should pick up on this amazing hobby if you already hadn’t, so let’s dive in.
Believe it or not, hiking can be more effective than diets, running, and lifting weights under certain conditions.
As we’re walking, we’re putting our entire bodies in motion, which puts a certain amount of strain on most of our muscles, which is essentially an effective and completely natural workout.
First and foremost, our quadriceps muscles are always on the frontlines whenever any kind of legwork is at stake. Given that hiking entails walking fairly long distances with more gear than you’d usually pack for a commuting trip, our abdominal and latissimus muscles are also under a fair amount of pressure.
Given that hiking is different than casual walking since there are numerous potential obstacles in the way (rocks, foliage, trees, slopes), the hamstring muscles will naturally have more work to do. In fact, long-distance hiking can put a heavier strain on our hamstrings than most forms of casual running, as the pressure is constant but decently high.
Furthermore, most hikers have remarkably strong calves. The weight we carry and the unevenness of terrain are better workouts than any treadmill machine.
Essentially, hiking allows people to buff up their leg muscles while also strengthening all the other groups, albeit in a somewhat reduced capacity.
The arm muscles and abdominals will be active as long as you’re hiking, although the amount of strain they’ll be under depends on the gear you’re carrying rather than any form of interactions you’re making.
As abstract as it may sound, one of the least-known benefits of hiking is finding oneself among nature’s landscapes and beauties. Given that we live in the technological era, we take most things for granted and embrace our bad habits as ‘lifestyle choices.’
Cell phone addiction, living fast, forgetting to take a breather to smell the flowers; these are all the things that we embrace as defaults that have, for the most part, defined us, as well as the things that are continuously taking a toll on our mental well-being.
Along the same lines, most people live in cities (or suburbs) where the air is heavily polluted. We are quick to forget the benefits, and more importantly the necessity of breathing pristinely clean air, which is currently only present in the wood thickets and forests.
Again, one of the most hidden benefits of hiking in nature is self-reflection and attuning with nature itself, re-evaluating oneself towards instinctual, actual values.
The immense impact on our mental state that hiking can have can only be felt when we return to our day-to-day routine. The slower pace of life, the brief moments of respite, and instant bumps in terms of mood are arguably even more important than simply feeling more energetic and the fleeting notion of having a ‘great time’.
As we should first learn to walk before we could run, we should also hike before we camp or climb whichever mountain. Aside from becoming more open to nature, another hidden benefit of hiking is becoming more familiar with it.
The vegetation that itches and induces rashes, the wildlife that surrounds your preferred camping destinations, as well as the insects that may or may not bite - these are all the things that you will encounter one way or another.
Being well-prepared for your camping trip requires more than just wishful thinking. You can take the time while you’re hiking to scout the areas where you can spend an evening, observe the surroundings for potential threats, and ultimately be sure that you can have a good time instead of praying for the best outcome.
Obviously, doing a bit of research on the areas you aim to hike in is recommended, but nature tends to be unpredictable and volatile. Animals migrate, some plants die out or evolve, so you can be sure that whatever you are expecting will not go perfectly as planned.
Hiking is an excellent opportunity to learn more not just about yourself, but about your surroundings as well. You will be able to see how your environment reacts to your presence, and in turn, you will get the opportunity to learn how you should behave once your friends, family, or camping squad are depending on you.
One of the best ways to pass the time as the campfire is warming up and the meals are being prepared is to stroll through nearby groves and trees. Given that not all forests are completely safe, you may want to stock up on camping gear.
You may have already organized the cookware and tools required to chop down a few timbers, but the single item that every hiker and camper needs is a quality pocket knife. Whether you’ve tangled yourself up in a bush of poison ivy or need to separate the joint sausages from the bulk, a knife is as versatile a tool as any that can help you in a pinch.
Many hiking trips have ended with bad memories simply due to the fact that campers weren’t adequately prepared for the unpredictable events that wildlife presents. Fortunately, hiking gear is naturally closest to camping gear, so if you’re a fan of both activities, gearing up shouldn’t be too much of a problem budget-wise. We hope that you’ve learned something new today on the hidden benefits of hiking and that this guide was of use to you. Make sure you are staying safe in these times we are all going through and have a good one!
(This article is sponsored content.)
Published May 2021
Recommendations from American Trails
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A 48-mile water trail along the Chattahoochee River in Georgia. The water trail is contained within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (NRA).