Hitting The Trails Instead Of The Gym: Top Benefits Of Hiking


Not a fan of hiking? These facts might change your mind. This recreational activity has various benefits for the body. It’s not only about the physical advantages. The emotional and mental benefits are highlighted here as well. Let’s check it out:


When you start hiking, it is not such a heavy maintenance activity. It is something that you can do with nature. Shape.com’s interview with Alyson Chun, a senior instructor for the REI Outdoor School, proves that the activity can be relaxing for everyone: “Think of hiking as simply taking a longer walk in nature; you can hike at any pace, at any elevation, and for any number of miles, hours, or even days.”

You get a lot of perks, too. It doesn’t matter if the trail is easy or hard so long as you’re walking. An hour of hiking can even make you shed 400 calories while it works on your core and lower body.

This is A Leg-shaping Workout

Most trails would require hikers to climb a hill or even a mountain. Then as you go back down, it serves as a great exercise for your lower extremities. In Shape.com’s interview, Joel Martin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of exercise, fitness, and health promotion at George Mason University said, “Trekking up a mountain is a lot like climbing the stairs or doing lunges over and over, which strengthens your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.”

The downhill hike is the most crucial one – this leaves your legs working overtime. Martin says, “To go downhill, your glutes and quads need to do a lot of slow, controlled work to stabilize your knees and hips so you don’t fall.” He also added, “These types of contractions [called eccentric contractions; the same kind your muscles experience when you slowly lower a weight at the gym]damage muscle fibers the most because you’re resisting the force of gravity against weight, which in this case is the weight of your body.”

Even if you feel like you’re not doing enough when you climb down, your muscles are actually working themselves out.

Core-firming Activity

If your trail of choice is a tough one, then that means you’re in for a real ride. It would have your abs, obliques, and lower back work up to their maximum level just to make your body stable and upright. Adding a backpack can kick it up a notch. Martin adds, “A heavier bag—around eight to 10 pounds—makes you more unstable, so your core muscles need to work harder.” You can burn calories ranging from 400-800 an hour. This depends on the trail of course, but working it out with a hiking bag can definitely help you reach the maximum calorie-burning range.

Hiking can be a Killer Cross-Training workout

If you’re preparing for a race either in running or cycling, hiking can be a good way to make some progress in your training. Martin adds, “Cyclists tend to have strong quads but underdeveloped hamstrings, and runners tend to have weak hamstrings and glutes. Hiking helps strengthen these muscles to eliminate those types of imbalances.” This can truly be beneficial to those who are regularly participating in races.

Diabetes Management and Prevention

When you plan your hiking trips regularly, you’re on your way to a healthier lifestyle.  Healthfitnessrevolution.com reveals that hiking helps you control and even prevent diabetes as it helps lower your blood sugar levels. This is considered as a full-body workout for your muscles – this moves glucose from your bloodstream to produce energy.

Low Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

Hiking reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Regular hiking activities lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. It can let you manage your blood pressure and cholesterol well.

Healing Power of Hiking

Healthfitnessrevolution.com mentioned a study released by International Journal of Sports Medicine. The study discovered that long trips may help the anti-oxidative capacity in the blood of cancer patients. A different study that involved breast cancer survivors found that those who exercised in regular intervals (in the form of hiking), genuinely helped their recovery. 

These are just some of the benefits of hiking. The list doesn’t end here. What are you waiting for? Discover more of the wonders of this recreational activity!


About Author