If you have never gone on a proper hiking trip, it might seem that walking and hiking are the same terms with different sceneries. This is not true. The way our body performs during hiking differs greatly from how it reacts when you go for a jog around the block. The varying terrain tones your body into good shape and nature itself plays a huge part in affecting your brain.
Here are seven things that your body goes through when you embark on a hiking trip.
1. A Mood Lifter
According to Stanford’s research, the time you spend in a natural setting i.e. hiking reduces rumination. Ruminating behavior is the term used by psychologists to describe self- absorbed and negative thoughts that link to depression and anxiety. This evidence is one reason city dwellers should take some time to hang out with Mother Nature and absorb that positive and refreshing vibe.
2. Strengthening Muscles You Never Used Before
When you are hiking, your body is consistently navigating uneven ground. Running on trails activates different muscles than the ones used to run or walk on a flat man-made surface. The important muscles being used are in your hips, knees, and ankles. The great thing about hiking is muscle conditioning which will ultimately improve your center of balance and make your body more stable. Hiking strengthens the core muscles including your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, lower leg, and hip muscles.
3. Your BMI Changes
You might have experienced reducing your BMI to a healthier number through diet and exercise, and that means you also know that it took weeks or even months to achieve that. However, when you hike, your body’s fat composition deteriorates fast. Eight hours of hiking equal to weight loss results you see in a month.
4. Your Resting Heart Rate Lowers
Cardio does a good job of strengthening your heart. The heart is, after all, a muscle. When your heart is stronger, it pushes more blood with every beat into the body during a hike. Your decreased resting heart rate courtesy of your hiking exercise is the cause for this. If you hike for straight 7 to 8 hours every day for a few weeks, you will find that when you return home, your usual runs will feel like a piece of cake.
5. Regulating Healthy Sugar Levels
When you push your body to hike day after day, your body nears the healthy hemoglobin A1C levels which are between 4.8% and 5.6%. When your hemoglobin A1C levels go beyond 5.6%, it indicates a case of pre-diabetes. You may think that working out every day for an hour is active, but it isn’t, especially if you are slaving at a desk for hours for the rest of the day. Energy bars and convenient sandwiches for a meal are not healthy either. When you are out in the wild, snicker bar cravings are the last thing on your mind. In fact, a hiking trip might be the perfect thing to get over that sugar addiction you cannot quit.
6. Your Hormone Levels Normalize
There are plenty of reasons your hormone levels may tip outside their normal range, stress being one. For many urbanite men, Testosterone takes a hit and they don’t even know it. When men hike, they notice an increase in energy, muscle growth, libido, and aggression after a while, all of which are linked to an increase of Testosterone. In the same way, your Cortisol levels drop, as the stress depleting benefits of nature take effect.
7. You Burn Calories
Your body comes with 2 energy sources, fats and carbs. Low-intensity exercises like jogging or walking burn fat for fuel, while high-intensity exercises burn carbs for fuel. Hiking is an excellent way to make your heart pump and burn those extra calories.
If you haven’t tried hiking before, it is important to seek approval from your GP. You can schedule an online telemedicine appointment to get a green signal from your doctor instead of visiting the healthcare facility. Once you return home from your hiking trip, keep up your health by walking more often and indulging in regular exercise.
James Crook is a passionate blogger who loves to write on health and fitness related topics. Currently, he is a working as a blogger for a Physical Fitness Dr Wilson shoulder Surgeon. Follow @jamescrook911 for more updates.