Here are some reasons why hiking is such a supreme form of physical and mental exercise, hiking is a vastly under appreciated form of exercise. It has so much to offer and can be properly addictive! depending on our location it can be fun, an alternative way to access cardio
Let’s clear things from the beginning, for whoever thinks hiking should just be called ‘walking’, that just isn’t the case! due to the variation of terrain, the incline, the altitude, the weather conditions, the adaptability it calls for… hiking is far more physically and mentally challenge burns 140% more calories (c.550 per hour for a 70kg individual who’s orienteering, vs c. 230 for the same individual walking at 3mph). As a fitness activity, it can lead to a host of physiological & social benefits as follows;
1) LOWER-BODY TONE: Beef up your legs & butt, whilst controlling your overall bodyweight, especially through an uphill gradient. Generally, hiking is excellent for muscle tone, particularly the cross country variety, as the body and legs (even the core) have to compensate for rough terrain by working harder for stability.
2) BREATHE IN The Fresh Air Being in the great outdoors, the fresh air, the wind on your face, and variation of great scenery, low-pollution air is invigorating and helps the lungs to regenerate, and the vitamin D you’ll soak up from the spring sunshine can’t be simulated through diet!
3) TEST ENDURANCE: It’ll bring out the best in you when the challenge tests your endurance and the drive to ‘plough on’ kicks in. Your next challenge will be a high-altitude hike, whereby once you start climbing, the atmospheric composition changes, you feel it in your stomach, your legs grow weary, your bodyweight feels threefold its normal level, and you’re gasping for air; to me, that’s an endurance challenge-and-a-half!
4) BURN CALORIES: c.550 per hour for a 70kg individual who’s orienteering – you’ll consume masses of energy to fuel yourself, and that burn-rate keeps going after the hike too, especially if you’re heading uphill.
5) GROW HOT OR COLD: Hot weather amplifies calorie-burn by raising the body’s core temperature. Cold outside? Wrap up and sweat all the same!
6) GET COORDINATED: The random nature of the scattered terrain means you have to focus on each step, on your balance, on planning the optimal ‘route’, and you really engage the logical centre of the brain in tandem with the muscles to implement your strategy. It’s really quite stimulating!
7) SCALABLE: you can take it at your own pace, and adjust the difficulty to any level of fitness, so there should be nothing exclusive about this means of exercise.
8) CARDIO: Hiking is unquestionably a cardiovascular activity (obviously dependent upon how hard you push yourself); the benefits are as with any other form of cardio.
9) ACHIEVEMENT: You have a physical destination to reach, rather than a linear walk on the uphill treadmill. Once you get to the top of the mountain a sense of achievement, the spirit of primal conquerors!! And unlike the treadmill, you get to enjoy constantly changing scenery which is nowhere near as boring, and you can do it with a group of friends too, so it’s equally a social event!
10) STRONGER BONES: As hiking puts productive pressure on your bones, it encourages the development of a healthy bone structure, and contributes to the reduction of exposure to degenerative bone conditions, such as osteoporosis.