Why is hiking such a good workout?
Few exercises are as well balanced for you as hiking is. The only one that comes close is simply walking, which is not as strenuous ergo not as beneficial as hiking. Swimming is perhaps the only exercise that is better than hiking, but it is not as universally accessible nor is it free. That’s the great thing about hiking, it can be done anywhere with nature free of charge (mostly). Not everywhere has a swimming pool.
Hiking uses all of your major muscle groups. Your feet and legs are used the most, of course, but your chest and arms can come in to play too. First of all, you are liking going to be carrying a backpack of sorts if you are hiking even a short distance. Carrying a backpack not only improves the cardio aspect of the workout but gets in a bit of strength training too. You could even add extra weight to your backpack if you like, though it will likely be heavy enough with all your gear and water in it.
Most exercises focus on one muscle group. Running/cycling is almost entirely your legs. Doing weights and pushups/pullups are almost entirely your upper body. Hiking uses a wider range of muscle groups and will give you a more balanced workout. Swimming does the same, but you may not find swimming as accessible as hiking is.
Hiking is possible for almost anyone. If you can walk short distances, you can hike. It may be harder for some people than others but it can be done, it just might take a little practice. No other exercises besides walking can make this claim. It is perfectly fine to choose hiking as your exercise of choice for this reason. Why pay for a gym membership when all you need is a pair of hiking boots and a bottle of water?
What are some other benefits of hiking?
Hiking is great for you for more reasons than just getting in shape. It can improve so many different facets of your life that you may have not even considered. Most people get their workout at the local gym, which is fine, but hiking is even better. Here are some of the other benefits of hiking you may not have considered:
Exercise is directly linked to our mental wellbeing, hiking is no different. This has been proven time and time again in many different studies. Hiking offers additional benefits though. Hiking is a great way to enjoy some time to yourself for thought and reflection. Working out in a gym is fine, but it is also often busy and music/televisions are blasting constantly, so you may find that you feel distracted from your thoughts. Hiking can be very therapeutic when done alone or with a friend.
Exercising outdoors and getting some fresh air is good for not just your health but your wellbeing. Between work and our time at home, we don’t often spend as much time outdoors as we perhaps should. Spending just a few hours a week hiking can be great for you both physically and mentally.
Being in nature is a wonderful feeling. Truly immersing yourself in the countryside and experiencing what it has to offer is a unique experience. Whether you are on the lookout for interesting wildlife or are just taking it all in, spending time in nature can be very beneficial. Business Insider wrote a great article about the benefits of spending more time outdoors. You can find it here.
Hiking can be a very sociable activity. Most workouts are not designed to be sociable. You may go to the gym or go running with a friend, but you probably aren’t speaking to each other so much as just being near each other. That’s fine, it is even a nice way to spend your hikes. But, hiking does offer the opportunity to have a chat, catch up with your friends, and experience what the countryside has to offer together.
How can you make hiking even better?
There are a few ways you can squeeze even more benefits out of your hike. Hiking is great on its own, but if you are a busy person getting the maximum value from your time is important. Firstly, using hiking poles and carrying a backpack can make your hike even more strenuous. This can be a great addition to your workout. Hiking can be plenty difficult on its own, adding more might seem silly. And it is; unless you are looking to push yourself even harder but don’t have the time to simply increase your hiking distance.
You can listen to audiobooks, podcasts, music, or lectures while you are hiking. These could be for enjoyment or education (maybe even both). Listening to something while you hike can make the whole experience more enjoyable. So long as you keep an eye on where you are going and be aware of your surroundings you will be fine. It is a bad idea to listen to something with headphones on should you choose to go hiking through bear country. When in bear country you need to be alert at all times. Headphones could prevent you from hearing important indicators of predators around you.
Hiking is a great way for people of all fitness levels and abilities to spend time in the great outdoors. It is great for your body and mind, even just a few hours a week could cause drastic improvements to your general health and wellbeing. Whether you are someone considering taking up hiking as a hobby or are an avid hiker already, you have plenty to gain from immersing yourself in nature. There is no better way to do that than hiking.