Hiking is an excellent way to get outside, walk in nature, strengthen leg muscle, and take care of your holistic mind and body. Some overall physical and mental health benefits include:
- Increasing energy levels
- Reducing stress
- Boosting self esteem
- Enhancing brain activity
- Improving Focus
By spending time in natural environments and taking a break from the hustle of daily life, you'll find yourself feeling healthy and energized. So if you’re looking for a great way to stay active and level-up your overall well being, here are 8 reasons why hiking a trail is the ultimate self-care.
1. Hiking can help improve your mental health
Numerous studies have shown that hiking can have a positive impact on mental health. Exercise has been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, and spending time in nature has been linked with emotional calm and peace. Additionally, hiking can help improve sleep quality and increase energy levels.
If you're feeling down, lace up your hiking shoes and grab a trekking pole, because finding hiking trails (or planning a backpacking trip) and getting out into fresh air might be just what you need!
2. Hiking can help improve your heart health
Hiking helps to get your heart (and legs!) pumping and improve your cardiovascular health, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A study published in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation, found people who followed the minimum guidelines for moderate or vigorous long-term, leisure physical activity lowered their risk of dying from any cause by as much as 21%. But adults who work out two to four times the minimum might lower their mortality risk by as much as 31%.
Hiking has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which can contribute to a healthier heart.
3. Hiking boosts your mood
Hiking has been shown to boost your mood and improve your overall mental health. A Stanford University study found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area / trail, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting, have less ruminating and repetitive thoughts focused on negative emotions.
4. Hiking Can Boost Your Immune System
Regular exercise like hiking has been shown to work wonders on the immune system, making you less likely to get sick. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology found that people who exercise regularly are less likely to catch a cold or the flu than those who don't. So, if you're looking for a way to stay healthy this winter, hit the trails!
5. Hiking Can Reduce Your Stress Levels
One study found that hikers who exercised for 90 minutes had lower levels of the hormone cortisol than those who did not. The study’s participants also reported feeling more relaxed and less tense after their hikes. If you’re feeling stressed, try walking in nature – you may just find it helps to hit a trail!
6. Hiking Can Improve Your Sleep Quality
If you’re struggling with insomnia or other sleep problems, hiking may be able to help. One study found that people who went on regular hikes slept better and felt more rested during the day than those who did not. The study’s participants also reported having more energy during the day after getting a good night’s sleep following their trail walking adventures.
7. Hiking Can Increase Your Energy Levels
In addition to improving your sleep quality, hiking can also help to increase your energy levels during the day, and to recover more easily after a long day. One study found regular trail hikers had more energy and felt less tired during the day than those who did not. The study’s participants also reported having more motivation to work out and being more active overall after starting to hike regularly.
8. Hiking can help you maintain a healthy weight
Hiking is a great way to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. A moderate hike can burn anywhere from 300 to 600 calories per hour, making it an excellent form of exercise for weight loss or weight maintenance. Additionally, hiking can help increase muscle mass and tone your body. So, if you're looking to get in shape, hit the trails and be sure to stay hydrated by bringing enough water!
A moderate hike can burn anywhere from 300 to 600 calories per hour, making it an excellent form of exercise for weight loss or weight maintenance.
The Bottom Line on Why Hiking is the Ultimate Form of Self-Care
In short, hiking provides an array of health benefits that improve our mental and physical well-being, as well as strengthening relationships. Though it can be difficult to spare time in our hectic lives, getting your feet onto hiking trails is worth it to feel happier, more relaxed, and at ease. The best part is these effects will last for a long time and continue to strengthen your overall health.