Why hiking is good for your health – The physical and mental benefits of hiking

Why hiking is good for your health – The physical and mental benefits of hiking

For most people in today’s world, it is a well-known fact that a healthy lifestyle is important. It’s important for many reasons, whether it’s to look good, feel good, improve your mood, increase your mobility, or all of the above. Going to the gym and having a healthy diet are two of the most common ways of doing that in today’s busy world.

But let’s face it, hitting the gym 3, 4, or even 5 times a week can get a little daunting at times. With the crowds, the money, and the time it takes it’s any wonder if you’ll ever really enjoy it at all after a while. A healthy diet is definitely a benefit in every ones lives, we can all agree on that of course. Avoiding unhealthy choices like processed and fast foods are the perfect way to start.

If there is one way to start feeling better before and after your workouts, both mentally and physically, stick with whole foods and meats that are raised clean and happy. Pairing nicely with a healthy diet is good physical exercise, which is why hiking is good for your health. The benefits will greatly improve you both physically and mentally.

Less known major health benefits of hiking

Research has proven that exposure to nature can help reduce tension and depression while increasing self-esteem and happiness.

In 2007, a study in the UK compared depression levels of inflicted people who went for walks in malls and those that walked in natural settings. They found that 71 percent of those that walked in natural settings reported decrease levels of depression, compared to only 45 percent of those that walked in malls, with 22 percent having increased depression levels when walking in malls.

The same research showed that 90 percent had increased self-esteem and 71 percent were less tense when walking in natural settings. Compared to 45 percent and 50 percent respectively when walking in malls.

Needless to say, there have been countless studies done worldwide that prove exercise in nature improves mental well-being and states of mind. An excellent way to benefit from that physically and mentally is to enjoy the splendors of nature with a good pair of boots and a trail.

Known major health benefits of hiking

Along with the many mental positives of hiking, there are even more physical benefits. Meandering up a tree covered trail along a mountain side to an apex with a stunning view can and will do wonders.

Such as improving cardio respiratory fitness, thus increasing blood flow throughout the body and reducing your risk of strokes and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Which in turn can help reduce high cholesterol and weight, by burning off on average about 250 calories per hour.

One of the other beautiful things about hiking (not just the views) is that it’s relatively simple to adjust to any fitness level. Whether it’s in a park setting in the city, or a goat trail in the alpine, there is always a beautiful place to go for a walk.

Improve yourself with an elevation increase

It’s no secret that hiking is a good way to improve your fitness. Hiking on inclines will do wonders for your quads, hamstrings, and glutes if done on a regular basis, at least twice a week for an hour or more.

Whole body workouts are performed with a combination of poles, backpacks, and steeper terrains. In addition to the grand vistas and greater senses of accomplishments, you’ll improve your bone density and sleep quality, as well as risk reduction of many other ailments and diseases.

So bring some proper nourishment and plenty of fluids, hit those trails and feel the burn. Without a doubt if you plan to go hiking than you plan to increase your fitness level and improve your muscle tone

Creativity increase

Studies have shown that spending time outdoors leads to improvements with problem solving skills and attention spans by as much as 50 percent. Attention restoration theory asserts that after being exposed to nature people are able to concentrate better, and psychologist have found that after spending up to four days in nature those tested scored much higher on creativity tests than those that only took the test in the lab.

Most researchers agree that unplugging from tech is beneficial and there are measurable effects to problem solving by interacting with nature. In the modern technological environment the effects on the prefrontal cortex of the brain are being exhausted by constant demand.

Exposing your mind and body to the wonders of nature no doubt has the greatest potential to improve your health, so all the more reason to head out on the trail and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

At the top of it all

Just the thought of strapping on some boots putting a backpack over my shoulder and mapping out my route through the forest gives me joy. Just that joy alone starts to ready my body mentally and physically for a fulfilling adventure in nature. One that helps build muscle, strengthen bone, improves my respiratory system, relieves tension and stress, and helps me to think better.

The list grows longer for several other physical and mental conditions that are benefited from hiking. Some would say it has the ability to heal illness, either mild or serious. Not only does it help improve your balance, strengthen your core, and help control weight, but some would say it even helps cure cancer.

So if your looking to improve your life, might I suggest starting with a hike. It costs nothing but time and can be, and is so positive to so many aspects of your life, even the thought of it can bring joy and wonder. That’s time well spent, so don’t forget your camera, having and sharing those moments can add to a much needed release from the stresses of our world today.

Remember to always be prepared, bring plenty of fluids, food and clothes for those longer treks. Planning your route and letting people know where you’ll be is your safest bet, and have fun.

So put your best boots on and find your path!

James Arsenault

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25 thoughts on “Why hiking is good for your health – The physical and mental benefits of hiking

  1. I love hiking! You mentioned using poles. I have noticed that many people use these on hikes. Are they for more than just balance? Why would someone choose poles over a walking stick? Maybe you can explain this in a future post. I love your pictures!

  2. Hi,
    What an amazing write up on hiking and its benefits both physical and mental.

    I, myself, enjoys hiking and I totally agree with you that it is a good form of exercise. I may also add that it is a good way of meditating – I say meditating because the nature’s view has a calming effect.

    Thank you so much for sharing this article!

  3. James – what a fantastic read! I am a firm believer of the benefits of magic that nature has to offer. Nature one of the highest vibrations of all, so its definitely makes sense that we can benefit by spending time in nature, whether through a walk or a hike. I find those stats interesting about how depression decreased for those who spent time out in nature. And very interesting how depression increased with mall walking. I can most certainly see how that is possible with all the myriad of vibrations in the air from everyone and most being negative. And in regards to working out, I am not a gym person – never was. I work out at home and then go for walks in nature. I prefer my privary and solitude to commune with nature. So I am with you, I choose to walk and hike in nature. It’s so invigorating for sure! Thanks so much for the reminder to do this much more often! Where are some places you like to hike?

  4. nice read, great info and photos i totally agree that outside is the best place to rejuvenate mind ,body and soul i like the facts and numbers great reference i hike the beach to get to my favorite fishing holes …..think tomorrow ill go thanks for the inspiration

  5. LT, thanks for your insight, glad I could assist in reminding you of natures splendor. Some of my favorite hikes are the ones that take me to a great view point, the North Okanagan of British Columbia offers an abundance of fabulous vistas.

  6. Thanks for your input. I do agree that being out in nature and to enjoy it’s beauty has meditative properties that add to the many benefits it provides.

  7. Thanks for your comment. I think that poles are more for adding an aerobic element to hiking or walking, much like cross country skiers, as well as the addition of stability. That is a good topic to consider adding to future posts, thanks for the suggestion.

  8. I did not know there would be benefits from the elevation increase from hiking, but it makes sense. At higher altitudes, people use more oxygen, so it trains the lungs to take in more. You become better at breathing.

    I do have a question though. Under you first heading, you mentioned a study done in the UK on the benefits of hiking. I would like to read more into that. Do you have a link to the piece so I could check it out? I did not see a link anywhere in your article.

    Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

  9. I love any post like this that touches on physical and mental health. Both need to be talked about and you’re desire to help people with this post is great! I like how you’ve done a lot of reading around the topic too! Keep up the good work with this!

  10. Great article! Thank you so much for helping your readers to find peace and better health with this article. I absolutely love nature – the sounds of birds chirping, water running and wind rustling the leaves of trees – the beautiful wonders it beholds visually and even the smells of pine cones and flowers! It is definitely a great mood booster, pain reliever and whole body exercise to hike among nature. And I agree – less tech time and more nature time! That’s exactly what the doctor ordered :).

  11. I think it is great to get outdoors and go for a great hike.  I find it so boring going to a gym, I would much rather explore the countryside, regardless of the weather.  My son loves going for walks, which is great for his healthy lifestyle too.

    Thanks for a post that will hopefully inspire others to get out there too

  12. What a beautiful and inspiring article, it makes you want to go hiking straight away. You are so right mentally, phisically hiking is a wonderful experince. We are all so busy running to the gym to look good that we forget the true benefits that you get by simpling hiking in nature. Thank you for remininding us.

  13. Yes, I completely agree with you. For me, hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy. So, after reading this article, I will definitely prefer hiking more than before. I also like to go hiking because I feel it is a healthy way to enjoy. At least it is better than doing any kind of boring exercises.  

  14. You article on hiking  is very lovely. I always go on one at least ones a day, and the best part is, I always do it with a friend and because of that it feels like we are just taking a stroll whereas we’ve been walking for miles. It leaves you with a well fulfilled feeling when you are Done and it does wonders to your health. 

  15. very interesting, Hicking was my favourite sport ever, I still remember when I was in college I used to go with my friend every weekend in the morning for hiking and also our university that days used to organize hiking activities for students to help them clear their mind and release tension every semester break, I really miss those old days I hope that I can go for hiking soon

  16. LoL, yes, what could be better to get in shape beautiful landscapes, fresh air, and feel the burn as you reach the peak.

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