There’s nothing quite like putting together a trek itinerary to get you closer to nature. As you take a single step, your entire body is put to the test. As a result, you get a workout that gives both mental and physical health benefits when you combine it with the sensations and aromas of the natural world.
Whether you’re climbing a high mountain or plodding along on a level path, you’ll be using strength, stability, and cardiovascular endurance, says Courtney Grasso, a NASM-certified personal trainer in Fort Collins, Colorado. “Hikers reap numerous health benefits, ranging from improved mental health to lower blood pressure and beyond,” according to research.
Extensive research into the health advantages of hiking has revealed some of its most valuable outcomes. We turned to Grasso and some more recent studies for further information on each of these topics. Read on for more details, and then check out The 6 Best Arm Strengthening Exercises in 2022, Trainer Says, for more information.
Anxiety and melancholy may be prevented.
Researchers at Stanford University found that going on a trek can lift your mood when you’re feeling down. Researchers separated participants into two groups and assigned each to a 90-minute walking route to arrive at this conclusion. For one group, the walk was in a natural setting, while for the other half, it was in an urban one (which, yes, is technically a hike!).
Rumination, which can contribute to depressive episodes, was reduced in participants who walked in a natural environment compared to those who walked in a metropolis. A brain region that is more active when you are unhappy was also reduced in activity in these individuals.
It can aid in the treatment of hypertension.
While it isn’t as intense as lifting big weights or sprinting, it has numerous health benefits. Hiking once a week can help lower high blood pressure, which is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Researchers conducted a three-hour trip with 24 volunteers ages 65 and older to arrive at this conclusion. Participants with untreated hypertension have collectively decreased their systolic blood pressure after nine months. Blood pressure (BP) is measured in the “top number,” which indicates how much force is applied by your heartbeat on the artery walls. Another study found that those who spent just 30 minutes outside in nature saw a decrease in their blood pressure.
Despite the limited scope of this study, Grasso believes these findings are sound. According to Grasso, people who spend time in green places are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure. It is easy to see why hiking is such a powerful type of movement when you consider that regular exercise reduces blood vessel stiffness and helps manage blood pressure levels.