Hiking has many benefits for a person’s mental, physical and emotional health.
Physically, hiking is one of the easiest activities to do – simply put one foot in front of the other until you get where you’re going.
It can start with a simple walk around a park or forest trail and build up to a more strenuous climb up a mountain, if that is what a person wanted to accomplish.
Hiking exercises every part of the body as well as the mind, inspires the imagination with different destinations and feeds emotional and social well-being in the company of others.
Hiking's Physical Benefits
Physically, hiking improves fitness of the heart by lowering coronary heart disease and stroke, lowering high blood pressure and lowering the risk of triglycerides and high cholesterol.
It also helps lower the risk of colon and breast cancer and possibly other cancers as well.
Hiking builds muscular fitness throughout the body – legs, ankles, abdominals, hips, butt, shoulders and neck. This weight bearing activity can result in better bone density and slower the loss of bone density.
It also provides better respiratory health when breathing in the fresh air.
Hiking can burn up to 375 calories an hour so it aids in weight control.
Hiking's Mental and Social Benefits
Mentally, hiking provides a better quality of sleep and reduces depression.
Hiking is a great way to lift feelings of sadness and depression, especially when done with several friends going to interesting locations.
Hiking improves social interaction when done in a group and this also improves mental and emotional health.
A person who is unfamiliar with hiking should start slow and get out for walks every day to improve their own level of health.
Before joining a group, be aware of the expectations of the group and the level of terrain that is hiked.
Hikes will often be posted according to the level of activity required from easy to moderate to strenuous.
Easy hikes are often on more level terrain while strenuous hikes involve periods of steep uphill activity and can last three hours or more.
The length of time requires and any special equipment that is required should also be posted. Hiking boots, poles, layers of clothing, knapsacks and of course water are often required.
Some hikers have dogs they wish to take with them which some groups allow, others will not.
Large dogs can be boisterous and there is a danger of injury on steep trails.
Check your local meetup or facebook g roups for favorite hiking activities in your area.