What can you do in your free time, which includes family and friends while improving health and being also relaxing? Well, you can choose hiking, one of the activities that had won more and more followers after decades, for all the benefits that it brings to our health.
In addition, if it is well planned it can be practiced by anyone, no matter the training level or age.
Elders, children… anyone can go hiking, as long as you choose an appropriate trail and follow some simple tips. Therefore, from Walkaholic we talk today about the multiple benefits of this practice for your health.
Some important elements about hiking and health
In hiking or trekking, there are varying degrees of complexity. In its most accurate concept refers to the climbing of mountains or steep roads, but the term has extended over the years to walks in rural areas, especially those where there are many trees and other natural wonders such as rivers, waterfalls or caves.
The distances vary, as well as the terrain roughness. This is something to consider for beginners and those who are accompanied by children, elders or people with low physical training.
The path in hiking does not have to be long: a walk of about 4 km can be a very good starting point to walk at a pace that allows you to enjoy nature without stressing your body.
It is also very important to choose a correct dressing and equipment, with comfortable shoes of strong and with anti-slip soles. Fresh and loose clothing and a not too heavy backpack completes the hiker outfit.
Do not forget also to carry water, some food, sunscreen, a mobile phone, a small medic kit and a map. The best foods to take are nuts since them provide calories, do not take up much space and give you satiety.
The medic kit must contain the basics for healing wounds, that is, sterile cotton and gauze, bandages, tape and some disinfectant such as betadine or hydrogen peroxide.
We also recommend salt tablets and glucose capsules, to treat fainting or fatigue.
Always use something to protect your head like caps, hats or handkerchiefs and, if you wish, use a cane to help you on steep roads.
How does hiking benefit your health?
Improving cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems
Walking is a great cardiovascular workout. It is an aerobic exercise that helps strengthen the heart, maintain blood pressure values at optimal levels and helps you prevent the onset of heart disease.
In addition, this activity helps you to stabilize blood glucose and cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy weight.
The musculoskeletal system also benefits from hiking. It works on the musculature of the lower body, especially the buttocks, the quadriceps and the biceps femoris, being toned and strengthened. The twins also take their own, especially if you climb in some sections.
Something very interesting, especially for women and the osteoporosis prevention, is that trekking increases bone density, so that bones are strengthened considerably.
Needless to say, by choosing hiking we will invest in benefits for our respiratory system. Far from the pollution of the cities the air of the countryside, of incomparable quality, will oxygenate our body at the cellular level and reduce the possibilities of the appearance of respiratory diseases or help to reduce its symptoms.
By improving our breathing, our nervous system will calm down and the feeling of inner peace will flood our mind.
Eliminate stress and improve concentration
Surely it will have happened to you that just when you reach the countryside or get close to the sea, you immediately experience a great sense of well-being. This is another of the benefits of hiking.
Its practice increases the production of endorphins, those neurotransmitters that regulate pleasure, so it provides happiness and therefore reduces stress levels.
It also improves self-esteem, stimulates creativity and strengthens concentration.
If you think about it, the practice of trekking gives the brain benefits similar to meditation. In the open air the mind relaxes and concentrates on one main objective: the road.
Watching our steps, stopping to observe the landscape and the feeling of reaching the end of the trail provides satisfaction and, at the same time, leaves no room for the mind to wander into worries and negativities.
It produces positive energy, and even if we are looking for a solution to a work issue, after relaxing in that way we may find the answer by looking things from a different perspective.
It is very helpful for people with a tendency to depression, anxiety and insomnia. It has also been shown that the practice of aerobic exercises increases memory, which is why it is highly recommended for students at any scholar level.
Nature and harmony
Everything said before would be enough, but wait: there is more. Hiking puts us in direct contact with nature and, while doing so; we will begin to respect the environment even more.
Trees, rivers and mountains will enter into communion with us and will return us, with that energy, the feeling of being part of this beautiful world. That will make us more aware of the environment and life in general.
Sharing with nature will make us more willing to learn about it and this wisdom will come easily through all our senses.
That respect will be with us at home and it will be easier and more natural to respect the animals, not waste water and recycle as much as possible.
On the other hand, it is often the case that we have the possibility to meet other people on the road. It is an unwritten law among walkers to be polite and friendly, to greet whoever you met and offer help if required.
That will upgrade you as a human being and you can be sure that your solidarity will be reciprocated if necessary. Therefore, hiking will help us to socialize better.
So, do not hesitate: choose carefully the best route for you, but first let us know how hiking has improved your health. And then, since your first step, fill your lungs with fresh and pure air.
Who knows? We may meet one of these days on the road, improving our health.