Hiking for Health in Overland Park

It’s human nature to want to be in nature. Hiking is a favorite pastime, especially this time of year, and a lifelong adventure for some. Whether it’s climbing the tallest mountain, or simply breathing in the fresh air, hiking is a way to reconnect with the earth. We know hiking is a form of exercise, and there are plenty of benefits. From improving gratitude to teaching us survival skills, here are some compelling reasons to get outdoors this spring.

Hiking is good for your heart.

Considering heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States for both men and women, anything we can do for heart health is worthwhile. This type of exercise is said to decrease bad cholesterol blood levels, while increasing good ones. Exercise can also improve blood circulation, reduce or prevent high blood pressure, improve heart function and decrease the risk of developing diabetes. Moderate to high intensity aerobic activity can increase the benefit and this might include hiking uphill or carrying a heavy backpack. Also, hiking offers different perks than traditional cardio. Since it reduces stress while improving our mood, our risk of an acute heart attack is significantly less.

Hiking is a great way to interval train.

As we hike, we likely encounter a few peaks, some valleys, perhaps even jagged rocks. Depending on the terrain, we utilize different parts of our body and exert more energy when necessary. While most people don’t consider hiking to be interval training, it definitely fits the definition. In the most basic form, this type of cardio workout means giving our all for a short period of time, followed by a period of rest. In fact, interval training is one of the most efficient types of cardio, helping burn calories while on the trail. 

Being outdoors enhances gratitude.

Hiking makes us grateful for everything we have. This is partly due to the work it takes to hike, but also due to the fact hiking slows us down enough to think and admire what we have.  When we move through the world at a lower speed, between two and three miles per hour, we are keeping in step with the universe’s rhythm. Mother Nature will remind us to never take a single moment for granted.

Learning survival skills is important.

Regardless if we intend to stay overnight or simply enjoy nature for a single afternoon, being away from modern amenities teaches us about survival. This is especially true if we pause and look at what’s happening around us. Hiking introduces us to wildlife and challenges us to appreciate the beauty and bounty of nature. As hikers build experience and begin to challenge themselves, they’ll pick up new abilities, such as tracking animals on a trail or starting fires with just a match. The key is to have fun and enjoy the experience. Be sure to let someone know if you plan on hiking alone and consider a walking stick for safety.

 

Article written by FDF Personal Trainer – Emily Morris