Mother Nature

Health Benefits of Hiking are Amazing!

Hiking in Mother Nature is divine! The health benefits of hiking are amazing. Not only does hiking improve your physical health, it also improves your mental, emotional and spiritual health. Hiking induces endorphins to be made by the pituitary gland. Endorphins help relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria. Other health benefits of hiking include heart health, brain health, joint health, and immune system health. YAY to the health benefits of hiking.  

Here is a wonderful article on the health benefits of hiking from Fit and Me. The article is entitled: The 9 Benefits of Hiking That Will Have You Exploring New Places All Day Long.

Here is the full article. 

Have you ever gone for a really nice hike before? Taking a lengthy walk can be a really rewarding experience, both mentally and physically. The benefits of hiking are quite numerous and they are definitely all worthwhile the experience. Things like increased heart health, weight control, a better mental outlook, better mental function, and socializing with others are just a few of the benefits that you can reap from going on regular hikes.

In our opinion, there is nothing better than getting in tune with Mother Nature and walking through a forest or up a mountainside. To find out what all of the benefits of hiking are and what they entail for you, just keep reading to get all of the valuable info that we have to offer.

Benefit #1: Helps You Socialize

Benefits of Hiking

Hiking

The first thing that we really like about hiking is that it is quite a social thing to do. Sure, if you prefer to get some peace and quiet and hike by yourself, just you and nature, you can definitely do that. However, generally speaking, people go hiking in groups with friends or even with tour groups. Therefore hiking is a great way to socialize and spend time with your friends.

We all know that adults are busy creatures and between children, work, and other responsibilities, we don’t get nearly enough time to catch up with our old buddies. Hiking is definitely a great way for you to catch up with old friends.

Even better is if you take part in hiking or tour groups because it will get you out there, help you make friends, and enlarge your social circle. This is especially beneficial if you spend a lot of time at home or cramped inside a cubicle. The fact of the matter is that nobody likes to be alone and we all need friends. If you don’t have many friends you may want to try joining some kind of outdoor hiking group.

Benefit #2: Burning Calories & Losing Weight

One of the biggest benefits that you can get from going on regular hikes is that it is extremely healthy in terms of weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight level. Hiking does not only involve walking of course. When you hike, often you put on some thick clothes, heavy hiking boots, and usually you also pack a pretty big backpack that is full of food, supplies, and other goodies too.

While simply walking some trails may not seem that strenuous, that is definitely not the case. Depending on the level of difficulty of the hiking trail in question, plus the amount of gear that you are carrying, not to mention the speed at which you walk at, you can burn up to 500 calories in just 1 hour of hiking.

Of course, the more gear you carry with you, the faster you walk, and the more difficult the trail is, the more calories you will burn. If you want to increase the difficulty of your hike and thus the number of calories burned, you can choose to hike in hilly or mountainous terrain. It is actually shown that hiking at higher altitudes can help burn an increased number of calories due to the extra strain that is put on your body due to the altitude.

Moreover, if you don’t have too many calories in your system which are ready to be turned into energy, your body will turn to your fat deposits to produce energy, thus directly contributing to weight loss. Even better is the fact that exercise helps to boost your metabolic rate, thus helping your body burn calories or fat at an increased rate, ultimately also helping you to lose weight even faster.

Benefit #3: It’s Great For All Fitness Levels

Benefits of Hiking

Something else that we really like about hiking is that it is great for all ages and fitness levels too. If you aren’t in very good shape and are just getting started with leading a healthy lifestyle, you can go for a short hike on relatively flat terrain.

That is a relatively good starting point and will get you used to exercising. Once you progress and start to become fitter you can increase the difficulty of your hike by choosing to hike through harder terrain, and eventually even progress into something like mountain climbing. You can also increase the difficulty by carrying your gear with you or walking at a faster pace, thus making it ideal for people who are already in fairly good shape.

Moreover, hiking, especially in fairly easy conditions, is something that children and seniors can do too. Speaking of children and the elderly, hiking is a great way to get the whole family engaged in some healthy physical exercise.

Benefit #4: Working Out Your Muscles

Another thing that is extremely beneficial about hiking is that you actually get a pretty good full body workout that helps to keep your muscles in shape and even build them bigger too. This does of course depend on the difficulty of your hike, but even minimal walking is still good for the muscles in your legs.

Walking over rough terrain such as a forest or mountain scene definitely does put your legs to the test, therefore working out your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings too. However, if you choose to walk uphill, the strain put on your muscles gets multiplied, thus actually strengthening and enlarging your muscles.

Moreover, if you are hiking in very extreme terrain you might be forced to climb over rocks, ridges, and trees, thus also utilizing your core, back, and arm muscles. Also, since you probably have a hiking pack with food, first aid tools, tents, and maybe some extra clothes, you will also work out your core, back, and shoulders thanks to the virtue of carrying around a bunch of heavy equipment.

Benefit #5: Create Your Own Exercise Path

Benefits of Hiking

Something which we really like about hiking is that it gives you the opportunity to chart your own course and work out the way in which suits you the best. Hiking is fantastic because you can hike anywhere you want.

That could be in your local city whilst you explore landmarks, you can go for a hike at the nearest beach and maybe even go for a swim, you can hike through the forest and get in tune with the trees, or you can go for a difficult mountain hike too. The variety you get from hiking is definitely a big bonus.

Moreover, you can also choose how fast you go and how hard your exercise is. You can walk at a very slow pace if you choose, you can go at a brisk walk, or if the mood hits you, you can even take a jog too. It’s a really good type of exercise because you can also choose the distance you go. It’s great because you don’t have to go to the gym and get yelled at by sometimes snooty instructors and you can see the finest of nature at the very same time.

Benefit #6: Controlling Health Problems

The next thing that hiking is good for is to keep you healthy. What we mean by that is something as simple as hiking can help combat diabetes. It is a well-known fact that regular exercise can help control diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels. Hiking is a good way to utilize your muscles, as we discussed earlier, and this using of your muscles moves glucose from your bloodstream by converting it into energy.

In essence, this has to do with your metabolism because the more you hike, the better your metabolism gets, and the more sugar gets removed from your blood, something which is essential when it comes to controlling diabetes.

On that same note, hiking is also a form of cardiovascular exercise and it can be light or strenuous cardio exercise depending where you hike and what gear you are carrying. The point is that cardiovascular exercise is of course very good for you. It trains your heart and lungs to be more efficient in terms of delivering blood and oxygen to your muscles, thus increasing physical performance.

Regular cardiovascular exercise is also shown to help control cholesterol levels, control high blood pressure, decrease your resting heart rate, lower the instance of cardiovascular and arterial disease, and helps lower the chances of suffering from a traumatic event such as a heart attack. If you want to be heart healthy and keep your body in top condition, hiking is definitely a good way to get started.

There is also something that is even better than cardiovascular health and that is the healing of your body, especially from diseases such as cancer. It is shown that long distance hiking helps to improve the antioxidative capacity of your body and may also increase the amount of antioxidants in your body. An increased amount of antioxidants in the body is very good because it helps to fight off cancerous disease in ontological patients, also known as those who suffer from cancer.

Benefit #7: Increasing Moods & Happiness

Benefits of Hiking

Yet another benefit that comes along with hiking is that it has the ability to help make you happier and increase your mood too. One of the main ways in which hiking helps to make you happier and even lessen the severity of depression is because of the outdoors. It is shown that exercising outdoors or even just simply being outside helps people feel happier. There is just something about the serenity and beautiful nature of the outdoors that seems to improve people’s moods.

There is of course also the fact that hiking outdoors is a form of exercise, exercise which causes you brain to produce feel happy chemicals. When you exercise your brain produces neurochemicals such as serotonin as well as various endocannabinoids. Serotonin is a natural chemical present in your brain which produces feelings of happiness, elation, and a sense of increased general well-being, thus making you feel happier and helping to deal with things like depression, stress, and anxiety at the same time.

At the same time, endocannabinoids, some of the compounds present in marijuana, also help to make you feel happier, more relaxed and less anxious, and can also reduce the perception of pain. If you are sick of feeling down in the dumps, hiking might just be the solution you need to make you happier and improve your mental health.

Benefit #8: It Won’t Cost You A Fortune

Something else that you might just appreciate about hiking as a form of exercise is that it won’t cost you very much. Sure, to go hiking on a regular basis you may want to get a decent pair of hiking boots and maybe even a good backpack to carry the essentials with you, but past that you really don’t need anything. You don’t have to buy expensive gym memberships and you don’t have to waste money on transportation either. All you need to do is to put on a pair of shoes and get outdoors.

Benefit #9: Increasing Brain Power

The final thing we want to mention when it comes to hiking is that it helps to get the juices flowing to your mind. It is shown that hiking helps people be more creative, helps with problem-solving skills, and also helps people increase their attention spans. Fresh air is always good for the brain, plus it doesn’t hurt to take some time apart from our computers and smartphones either! Being outside can actually make you smarter!

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many benefits of hiking. The fact of the matter is that even though hiking may not be the most intense form of physical exercise around, it is still more than enough to provide you with a wide variety of health benefits. Both your mind and your body will feel much better from something as simple as hiking through the forest. If you haven’t already tried hiking you don’t know what you are missing out on, so strap on some boots and get out there!

 

 

Outdoor Exercise improves your health

Outdoor Exercise

Hiking

Outdoor exercise is becoming more popular and for excellent reasons. Outdoor exercise brings healing and energy to all your bodies: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It also stimulates and enlivens all your senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and even taste, if you bring some food, which is usually the case on long hikes, walks, or bike rides. 

Outdoor exercise brings balance to your hormones and neurotransmitters: Dopamine, Cortisol, Gaba, Melatonin, Norepinephrine, etc., and it releases endorphins, morphine-like chemicals produced by the body that help diminish pain while triggering positive feelings. They’re released from the pituitary gland of the brain during periods of exercise. Endorphins help relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria. YAY to outdoor exercise. 

The best outdoor exercise is whatever makes you feel the best. These days, there are many outdoor classes and activities: yoga, cross fit, boot camp, Tai Chi, hiking, walking, biking, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing cross country skiing, skate boarding, in-line skating, and more. 

There is also that sense of peace and connection to the divine when you are in the beauty of Mother Nature. To fully get into the healing powers of Mother Nature, the best outdoor exercises are hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. With these three activities, you can really soak in the beauty of Mother Nature and in some respect, become a part of Mother Nature. 

On the whole, we have lost our way with the Earth and Mother Nature. By engaging in outdoor exercise, you can start to become more connected with the Earth and the healing powers of Mother Nature.

Here is a short video of my hike at Elk Meadow Park in Evergreen, Colorado.  

YAY to Hiking!

Mother Nature is healing!

Mother Nature is just outside waiting for you to embrace her healing benefits. Too many people have lost their way with connecting with Mother Nature. Getting outside and moving your body has many health benefits such as vitamin D production from the Sunlight, improved cardiovascular health, improved mental health and improved joint and muscle health. Spending time with Mother Nature triggers a good balance in various hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and cortisol. When your hormones and neurotransmitters are in balance, you feel wonderful, in body and mind.

The following article goes into more detail about the benefits of spending time with Mother Nature. Here is the link to the article. Get Outdoors! Here is the link to the Author, Amy Whitley. 

Here is the full article about getting outside and spending time with Mother Nature.

The mental health benefits of exercise are well documented, known to reduce stress and increase “feel good” hormones like dopamine. But many of us seeking better mind-body heath overlook the benefits found in simply spending time outdoors. It turns out the age-old adage is correct: fresh air is good for you! While outdoor physical activities such as jogging, trail running, and hiking combine both physical exercise and the outdoors for a mental health boost jackpot, according to both the National Institutes of Health and Harvard Medical School, simply spending time in nature in any form can improve your mental outlook, in addition to providing physical benefits. How refreshing!

Ways in Which the Outdoors Boosts Mental Health

Getting outside and taking a stroll truly can clear your head while also boosting your immune system and elevating your sense of well-being. If you can get outdoors regularly, you can trade seasonal light therapy boxes and artificial indoor lighting for natural light, which floods your body with vitamin D and immediately improves your mood. Just 15 minutes of natural sunlight per day is known to reduce depression and anxiety levels. Perhaps even more importantly, vitamin D and all that natural sunlight helps you sleep better at night. A study out of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine noted that natural sunlight helps set our body’s internal clocks. And the better rested we are, the better our mood and mental state.

But stepping outside does more than offer sunshine. Studies show that those living in urban environments have to contend with sensory overload on a daily basis, causing what researchers call cognitive fatigue. Finding green space or stepping into a park or garden can give the brain a break from urban stimuli. A recent epidemiological study has shown that people who move to greener urban areas benefit from sustained improvements in their mental health, according to Frontiers in Psychology. In fact, a recent Scandinavian study found that office workers with even views of trees or nature had lower stress levels than those who had city views.

Nature improves concentration as well, helping both children with attention deficit disorders as well as elderly citizens combating dementia or Alzheimer’s. Without the rush of man-made stimuli, the human mind is freed up to be more creative, and having lower stress levels allows us to focus on the task at hand better. This is why you might get your best ideas during a day fishing on the lake, or make that breakthrough on a work-related problem while on a walk in the woods.

How to Make it Happen: Getting into Nature

Getting your daily dose of nature doesn’t have to involve traveling long distances or taking up extreme outdoor sports like backpacking or kayaking. While a daily walk or bike ride is ideal, any green space can boost your mood and lower your stress and anxiety levels. Even sitting outside on a patio or balcony can give you access to sunshine and, at the very least, a skylight over your work or living space can provide natural light. Consider walking or biking to work each day, taking a new route through a green space or park instead of along city streets, or opting for the scenic commute instead of the freeway.

While outdoor sports such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, and skiing successfully combine exercise with outdoor stimulation, any form of outdoor living will elevate your mental health. Simply walking through a forest has been proven to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reduce blood pressure and heart rate. So take a daily walk, try your hand at fishing, or simply sit and read in a garden to see benefits.

Attention Restoration Theory

Capitalizing on the restorative properties of peaceful outdoor settings doesn’t mean city life is all bad. Living in an urban environment is a happy reality for many who have chosen to live and work in urban centers, and has many upsides. This is where Attention Restoration Theory (ART) comes in.

The thinking behind ART is that urban settings can have an excess of stimuli (car horns, sirens, people) that demand our attention whether we are consciously paying attention to them or not, whereas natural settings require our attention but also reward us with feelings of pleasure and help restore our attention. For urban dwellers, visiting a setting such as a park can feel like an oasis, in that it provides the feeling of “getting away” even though you may only be minutes away from your office.

Getting outdoors to feel happier and healthier is both intuitive and backed by medical science! Make yourself a promise to spend just 15 minutes or more in a natural environment per day to reap the rewards.