The physical and mental health benefits of trekking and hiking are undeniable. From feeling better internally to improving your relationships externally, hiking is one of the best activities you can tackle. Read on for 10 major benefits of hiking and trekking!
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I was lucky to grow up in a neighborhood in the Eastern United States that had lot of forests and wooded areas to play in. I can easily recall countless days of trekking through the woods with my brothers and friends, or playing in the treehouse that my dad and uncle built.
Having now lived in many different states, I can see all too well that having nature at your fingertips is a luxury that not every area can offer. I partially chose my current location because of its proximity to nature – the hiking trails, mountains, desert and beach are all within a short drive.
This access to the outdoors is a non-negotiable, in my book. Spending time in nature keeps me sane, and and hiking and trekking keep me feeling centered.
So, it didn’t surprise me to learn that there are plenty of proven health benefits of trekking and hiking, 10 of which we will cover here.
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10 Health Benefits of Trekking and Hiking
Trekking Benefit #1: Hiking Can Help Maintain a Healthy Weight.
This is probably obvious, but one of the main health benefits of trekking and hiking is that it helps you maintain a healthy weight.
Humans simply weren’t built to sit behind desks for 40 hours a week. Our bodies love to move! And when you make hiking a part of your regular routine, you are doing your body a great service.
Whether you are trying to maintain your healthy weight or lose weight in a healthy way, hiking and trekking is your friend. I’ve heard that on average, you burn around 100 calories for every mile you walk (this of course depends on the terrain.)
And, since hiking is an enjoyable activity, most people will maintain their weight long-term if they keep at it.
Not sure how to get started? I can help! Check out my post on How To Plan a Hike for more information.
Trekking Benefit #2: Hiking is Good for Your Heart.
According to the CDC, roughly 659,000 deaths occur in the United States each year from heart disease. At the time these statistics were recorded, that accounted for one in every four deaths.
That’s a lot.
Even a non-strenuous hike does wonders for your body and heart. A brisk walk on a flat trail will elevate your heart rate. You can make hiking as easy or as difficult as you want to, and that is one of the greatest benefits!
Hiking and trekking, no matter how intense, can significantly reduce your chances of heart problems down the line.
Trekking Benefit #3: Hiking Can Prevent and Reduce High Blood Pressure.
High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Another benefit of trekking regularly is that time spent exercising in nature can help to prevent or even reduce high blood pressure.
High blood pressure (aka hypertension) affects nearly one in three Americans. Some of that can be due to genetics and some can be due to living a high-stress lifestyle.
Lucky for us, we can help our bodies to decrease high blood pressure by 4-10 points through regular hiking.
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Trekking Benefit #4: Hiking Builds Strong Muscles.
Whether you intend to take a simple stroll in the fresh air or to hike strenuous mountains, hiking is going to help you build a stronger body.
My friend and I used to have weekly Sunday hiking dates, and I can tell you that making time for hiking regularly in your schedule will change your body for the better.
You’ll start to notice and appreciate muscles you didn’t know you had – in your calves, quads, glutes, core, and hamstrings. Sometimes you’ll feel sore for the next day or so, but that sore is oh-so-good!
Trekking Benefit #5: Hiking Can Calm Anxiety.
Studies have shown that both being outdoors and physical movement can greatly reduce anxiety. So, what if you combine them?
Through physical activity and exercise, our body releases adrenaline – and that is true no matter how fast or slow you go. And out in fresh air, the stress and demands of our busy lives are left behind.
Clearing your mind and moving your body will all but banish stress and anxiety. Oftentimes, when hiking and trekking become part of your regular routine, you’ll learn to carry this attitude of calmness into your daily life, as well.
In fact, you’ll begin to identify when your own stress levels are rising and you need to hit the trails. Just think – regular simple walks in the park can greatly improve your mental health and well being.
Trekking Benefit #6: Hiking Can Help Creativity.
Two of my favorite times for introspection and creation are easily on solo road trips and hiking trails. I come up with some some of my best ideas during these long stretches of time, alone.
Since I have always worked in the creative field, this is one of the greatest trekking benefits that I notice. Some of my best artistic ideas and aerial routines have come to me when in the car or on the trail.
Additionally, even when I’m not alone to think, the simple act of spending a few hours on the trails – breathing fresh air and listening to the sounds of nature – soothes my mind in a way that lets me get right down to business when I return.
There is something about hiking that seems to hit the reset button for many of us! And this is not just my opinion; rather, it’s been scientifically proven. Spending time outdoors can increase attention span and creativity in all of us.
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Trekking Benefit #7: Hiking Can Help With Your Sleep.
The benefits of trekking and hiking even spill over into your sleep quality. I don’t know about you, but any time I get a solid, intense workout in, I typically sleep much better. I like to say I’ve earned it.
Well, guess what. Hiking can definitely be considered working out, especially when you challenge yourself to a more difficult trail than usual. I’d wager that you’ll find yourself sleeping more deeply and peacefully after you’ve used those muscles all day long.
I have personally noticed in my own life how much regular exercise improves my sleep quality. If this is an issue for you, I suggest giving a strenuous hike a try!
Trekking Benefit #8: Hiking Can Help Form Stronger Bonds.
When I have the chance to hike with friends or a loved one, we always seem to get into great conversations about life. Whether it’s sharing a few laughs over ridiculous situations or talking about the deeper things, it never fails. Hiking created stronger bonds.
I think it’s a combination of being out in the fresh air while also being on-the-go. Sometimes it feels easier to confront those Big Topics while you’re moving; not staying stagnant. Heading toward a goal. I feel like there is some symbolism in there, isn’t there?
Hiking is a great activity to tackle with a friend / boyfriend / girlfriend / family member. It helps you connect on a deeper level. You’ll likely end the day with just a sliver of new information and appreciation for them.
Trekking Benefit #9: Hiking Will Help You Save Money.
It’s no secret that I like to save money and cut corners on costs as much as possible. This is because I choose to spend money instead on travel, excursions, and experiences.
Hiking is sort of the best of both worlds. In most areas, it is not too difficult to find free hiking trails or parks. You may need to drive a bit to get there, but once your there the activity is essentially free.
While there are epic hikes inside of National Parks like Joshua Tree and Saguaro National Park that come with an entry fee, I have seen some incredible scenery in areas that are completely free.
So, rather than spend money on a dinner or movie theatre, why not consider hiking with a friend instead? You’ll save money, build those muscles, and get some fresh air. All for zero dollars.
Trekking Benefit #10: Hiking Provides a Better Quality of Life.
In a world that requires digital connections like email and social media, disconnecting and heading out into nature is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself.
Though I absolutely love the fact that 50% of my work can be conducted on a laptop, anywhere, I am also a very active person and my body and mind require that I disconnect regularly.
Luckily, when hiking, you often have no choice but to disconnect from the digital world as many nature areas and parks have no cell service. I personally appreciate this immensely. There is no better feeling in the world than to explore the natural beauty without any digital distraction.
I think I’d sum this all up under the umbrella of “Quality of Life”.
The benefits of trekking and hiking really can’t be denied. From physical health to mental health to quality of life, these are some pretty convincing reasons to get ou tthere.
What is your biggest benefit that you’ve gained (or hope to gain) through hiking? Let me know below!
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