Exercising outdoors is a preferred method for many, but what makes it a good workout?
It doesn’t matter where it happens, in the gym, at home, or out on the trails, getting some exercise into your day will always be beneficial to your mental and physical health and wellness. Hiking has always been a favorite activity and form of exercise for nature enthusiasts. It can be a great way to push yourself physically while taking in some beautiful scenery and making it to that literal, and metaphorical, summit when you’ve reached the peak of the challenge.
Is Hiking Good Exercise?
Simple answer, hiking is great exercise! Any form of exercise is beneficial for an individual’s health and well-being, and being in nature can help boost the mental and spiritual health as well. Hiking also presents a few added benefits to just going out for a walk. When compared to walking on a flat surface, the added changes in terrain level lead to higher heart rates and metabolic rates, which burn more calories than a traditional stroll.
One major physical health benefit is that hiking improves cardiovascular health. The changes in elevation when climbing up and down hills raises the heart rate, improving overall fitness and endurance. Cardiovascular exercises also help reduce the risk of heart disease, can lower blood pressure, and can significantly reduce hypertension. Since hiking is a weight-bearing exercise, it can also help to build muscle mass in the legs and manage your weight due to having to shift weight and constantly shifting to keep balance on uneven terrain.
Other Benefits of Hiking
Hiking is a great activity that can be done solo or in groups. It can be the perfect way to recharge, cut down on some of the noise of day to day life, and be a meditative experience for an individual. Hiking is also a great activity to talk and spend time with friends while also getting in a workout. Either of these can have positive effects on a person's mental health as well.
We receive additional benefits from simply being outside and in nature. Trees do more for our bodies than just providing oxygen, and research suggests that being around trees can help reduce stress levels and lead to greater overall levels of happiness. Being outside also provides additional Vitamin-C from the sun exposure.
Hiking also has a relatively low barrier for entry and can be done with little additional equipment or materials. There are a few key things that can lead to a better, safer hiking experience, especially when getting started.
It is important to always bring water and to stay hydrated during the hike. While it may not always feel super strenuous at all times, staying well hydrated is essential. In the same vein, it can be very beneficial to bring additional snacks to stay nourished while moving. Planning your hike in advance can help determine how much and what to bring with you.
Our favorite piece to any good hike is the apparel. You’ll want to bring clothing that is comfortable and allows a good range of motion, and also to wear shoes that fit well, provide good traction, and will help keep those feet moving and comfortable. If you’re looking for a good pair of shoes to get started, we recommend checking out the new Via All-Terrain, which was optimized for fit and designed to handle the roughest terrains, while still keeping you super stylish (if we do say so ourselves).
Hiking is a good exercise for anyone and can be done from beginner to advanced levels of physical fitness. As with any form of exercise, it is important to start smaller and work your way up as you progress and challenge yourself more physically. Happy trails!