How Hiking Is Good for Body and Mind
By Kara Mayer Robinson
From the WebMD Archives
Hiking outdoors has plenty of perks: nice views, fresh air, and the sounds and smells of nature. It’s good for you, too. Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can:
* Lower your risk of heart disease
* Improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
* Boost bone density, since walking is a weight-bearing exercise
* Build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
* Strengthen your core
* Improve balance
* Help control your weight
* Boost your mood. “Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety,” says Gregory A. Miller, PhD, president of the American Hiking Society. “Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that.”
Step Up Your Hiking Workout
You can get more out of your hiking with these fitness-boosting strategies.
Start slow. A short, local hike is best for beginners. Gradually work up to trails with hills or uneven terrain.
Use poles. Digging into the ground and propelling yourself forward pushes your upper body muscles to work harder and gives you a stronger cardio workout.