Take a Hike……..It’s good for you!
My type of nature photography requires a lot of hiking, uphill, downhill, through water, chest high grass, swamps, mud…. you name it, I’ve probably hiked through it. I once walked into a dense growth of some very sharp bushes that shredded my raincoat and pants beyond recognition and left me with cuts and scratches over my entire body. I was looking to shoot a grove of dead trees and needed to walk through the bushes to get there. Didn’t get any good shots…but what an experience!
And then a year ago there was the 9 mile hike that Lexi (my dog) and I took on through the northern Wisconsin woods. We walked a dirt road for a couple of miles and then took a path through the woods. I figured that it would bring us back close to our starting point. Boy was I wrong. It took us to no point and we had to stop, turn around and retrace our steps…….but once again, what an experience!
Now that the weather has finally turned, it’s a great time to get out and hike. Hiking is a great form of exercise and with all of the hiking trails available it can always be a new experience…….and it’s extremely beneficial to your health.
Improved cardio-respiratory fitness
Regular physical activity substantially reduces the risk of dying of coronary heart disease by strengthening the heart and lowering the risk of high cholesterol and triglycerides.
Improved muscular fitness
When practiced over a long period, an aerobic exercise like hiking assists in boosting your stamina and encourages treatment of natural fatigue. In addition, hiking also builds strength and flexibility. Hiking uphill firms the calves and downhill hikes strengthen the quadriceps.
Lower risk of high blood pressure
Nearly one third of American adults have high blood pressure. Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer since symptoms are often undetectable and it can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other serious problems.
Physical activity such as hiking lowers blood pressure 4-10 points and regaining a normal body weight can lower it 5-20 points.
Increased bone density or a slower loss of density
Hiking assists in increasing bone strength and density. Regular hiking slows down the rate at which calcium is lost in the body, therefore strengthening bones and reducing their likelihood of breaking. Hiking prevents the onset of various bone diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
Reduced depression and better quality sleep
The current lifestyle that many people live is very hectic and stress causing. Hiking offers a great method of relaxing and spending some time in the wild. Hiking in natural and beautiful surroundings helps to calm both the mind and body. Endorphins released by your body during a walking workout can lift your spirits and keep them there throughout the day or night – keeping your brain as healthy as your body.
Lower risk of early death
If you are active for 7 hours a week, your risk of dying early is 40% lower than someone active for less than 30 minutes a week.
Weight control; hiking burns up 400 calories an hour
Hiking is a great method of losing those excess pounds. Actually, hiking burns about 400 calories in only one hour and it has the potential of burning even more calories when you hike in challenging areas like hills. Combining hiking with a good diet enables people to shed weight quickly.
There are times when I am extremely sore after doing an extensive hike/climb…..but it’s a good pain, the kind of pain that makes you feel like you accomplished something, the kind of pain that exemplifies that inner drive to push yourself beyond what you might consider to be your limit.
I am not suggesting that you go out and kill yourself, only that you take the time to get outside and enjoy nature. I promise you that it will not only be visually entertaining but also great for your body and soul.
…..and make sure you take a camera. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll see