It’s no news that regular exercise is important for our health, but sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to hit the gym.
However, what if you could combine fitness with the opportunity to experience the great outdoors and get fresh air?
That’s where hiking comes in! Not only is hiking a great way to get your heart rate up, but it also has many other benefits.
Hiking is an effective workout that is fun and pervasive. It is low-impact and has many health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health, strengthened muscles, reduced stress, and improved mental health. Hiking is accessible to people of all fitness levels, and there are many ways to make it more challenging and fun.
In this article, we will explore the many fitness benefits of hiking.
Also, we’ll delve into the effective workouts you can do while enjoying the beauty of nature. So, grab your hiking boots, and let’s hit the trail!
Is Hiking a Form of Exercise?
Yes, hiking is an excellent form of exercise. On the physical side, it provides all the benefits of cardiovascular exercise, which is vital for our overall health.
Weight-bearing activities like hiking also help increase bone density, which can prevent osteoporosis.
In addition, the physical and mental benefits of hiking are undeniable. It reduces stress levels, boosts mood, and improves sleep quality.
Hiking outdoors also allows us to experience nature, enhancing cognitive function and mental clarity.
In addition to stimulating the release of feel-good hormones, hiking also helps burn calories, making it an effective tool for weight loss.
On average, a 150-pound person burns about 350 calories per hour while hiking at a moderate pace, and that number increases with more difficult terrain and a faster pace.
Since hiking is low-impact, it is a workout accessible for people of all fitness levels.
Additionally, since it takes place outdoors, it can provide an escape from the stress of daily life and allow you to clear your mind.
One of the great things about hiking is that it can be a full-body workout.
If you wear a backpack, you will add resistance to your workout, which can help build muscle and increase the intensity of your exercise.
Additionally, hiking is a versatile activity that anyone can incorporate into various fitness routines.
However, getting the green light from your doctor is important, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition.
Some medical conditions, such as heart conditions and high blood pressure, may be exacerbated by hiking.
How Effective is Hiking in Building Physical Fitness?
When it comes to physical fitness, there are many ways to measure its effectiveness.
Hiking is a low-impact but highly effective way to build physical fitness.
Research has found that hiking can have several positive effects on physical fitness. In case you aren’t aware.
Here are five benefits of hiking:
#1. Building Stronger Muscles and Bones
Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise, which means it puts stress on your bones and helps them become stronger.
Weight-bearing exercises are important for people of all ages, especially older adults at risk of osteoporosis.
#2. Improving Heart Health
Hiking is great for your heart! It increases your heart rate to a moderate level, which helps improve your overall cardiovascular fitness.
With this improvement, you’ll be able to hike longer, faster, and with less fatigue.
In addition to improving your endurance, hiking can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
#3. Reducing the Risk Of Certain Respiratory Problems
Hiking is not only good for your heart, it’s also great for your lungs!
It can help improve your lung capacity and reduce the risk of respiratory problems, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
When you hike, you breathe in more oxygen than during everyday activities, which helps your lungs work more efficiently.
#4. Boosting Mood And Improving Sleep
Hiking has numerous psychological benefits, including boosting your mood and helping you sleep better.
Hiking can increase feel-good hormones like endorphins and adrenaline, boosting your mood and energy.
#5. Helping With Weight Loss
Finally, hiking can be a great way to lose or maintain a healthy weight.
On average, you burn about 100 calories for every mile you walk, which can add up over time.
Additionally, hiking can help you build lean muscle mass, which burns more calories at rest than fat.
How Can I Hike to Enhance My Fitness?
Hiking is an excellent way to enhance your fitness; the crazy thing is, it is super easy.
However, there are a few key things to remember and tips to follow to guide you through hiking and enhancing your fitness.
Here are some tips to make the most of your hiking experience:
#1. Start slow
As a beginner in hiking, it’s important to begin with easy trails that are relatively short in distance.
When choosing the right trail, it’s important to consider the trail. Different terrain types offer different challenges and benefits.
Here’s a table to help you choose the right trail for your hikes as a beginner.
|Terrain Type||Suitable For Beginners?|
|Forested Trails||Highly recommended|
Starting slow and steady will allow your body to get used to the physical demands of hiking and build up your endurance and strength.
Hiking too much too soon can lead to injuries like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, or even stress fractures.
As you progress, you can add more challenging hikes with longer distances and steeper inclines.
#2. Wear Proper Gear
In addition to taking it slow, it’s important to ensure you have the right gear for hiking. One of the most important pieces of gear is your footwear.
Purchase good hiking boots or shoes that provide support and traction, which can help prevent injuries. Look for shoes with a good grip on the sole and fit well.
You should also wear layers to adjust your clothing as you get warm or cold.
Wearing breathable fabrics like merino wool or synthetic materials can help keep you comfortable.
#3. Stay Hydrated And Fuel Your Body
Staying hydrated and fueling your body is essential for a safe and enjoyable hike.
It’s important to bring at least 1 liter of water per hour of hiking, more if it’s hot out. Water helps your body function properly and prevents dehydration.
#4. Incorporate Strength Training
While hiking is a great way to build endurance, it’s also important to incorporate strength training into your routine.
Incorporating strength training helps build muscle mass, increase stamina, and prevent injuries.
One simple way to add strength training to your hike is to carry a backpack with some weight.
Five Best Exercises to Do While Hiking to Build Shape
Now that we’ve covered some of the best ways hiking can enhance your fitness, let’s talk about exercises you can do during your hike to build strength and shape.
These exercises are great for taking a quick break during your hike and getting in some extra toning.
You don’t need any equipment for these, so you can easily do them on the trail.
These exercises will target different muscles so that you can customize them to your fitness goals. Here are five exercises you can do while hiking to build shape:
#1. Squat Jumps
Squat jumps are a plyometric exercise that combines the lower-body strengthening benefits of squats with the explosive power of jumps.
This exercise works your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. To perform a squat jump:
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squat down by bending your knees and lowering your hips.
- Use your legs to jump up while keeping your arms by your sides.
- Land softly and immediately return to the starting position, then repeat.
- Start with 5-10 reps, and increase gradually.
#2. Goblet Squats
Goblet squats are a squat variation perfect for hikers since they target all the key leg muscles involved in hiking.
The added weight of the kettlebell or dumbbell also helps to improve lower-body strength and power.
To perform goblet squats:
- Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell close to your chest.
- Keep your back straight and your core engaged as you squat down, keeping your knees over your toes.
- Keep your head up and your chest open.
- Keep your weight centered over your feet and your heels on the ground.
- Squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
#3. Walking Lunges or Step-Ups
For an added challenge, try walking lunges or step-ups with a twist.
Place your hands behind your head or hold light weights as you lunge for walking lunges.
To challenge your balance, try lunging on an uneven surface, like a dune or rocky trail.
For step-ups, try adding a lateral movement, like stepping to the side instead of stepping forward.
You can also add a twist to your step-ups by rotating your body as you step up. These variations will add intensity and challenge to your workout.
For deadlifts, focus on keeping your spine neutral and your core engaged. Start with light weights and pay close attention to your form.
Ensure your weight is directly over your feet and your back is straight as you hinge forward.
Drive through your heels and keep your knees slightly bent as you stand up.
You should feel the work in your glutes and hamstrings.
The key to deadlifts is to keep your back neutral and avoid rounding or arching your back. Quality form is more important than weight.
#5. Bench Step-Ups
Bench step-ups are versatile exercises that you can easily modify to suit different fitness levels.
This exercise also helps to improve your balance and coordination, which are key for a safe and enjoyable hike.
Keep your core engaged throughout the movement, and take your time. You can also change the height of the bench to increase the difficulty.
Bench step-ups are a simple yet effective exercise for building endurance and strength in your lower body.
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