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5 Reasons Hiking Improves Quality of Life

Posted on: September 22nd, 2014 by Quik Shade

Hiking is a fun and rewarding physical activity that has numerous benefits for your health, wellbeing and overall quality of life. Although many of the most beautiful hiking trails are through mountains, forests, along rivers, around lakes, and by other natural landscapes, you can typically find a good hiking trail near your home and easily enjoy the local landscape. If you are looking for more reasons to enjoy hiking, here are five ways that it improves your quality of life.

hiking

Physical Fitness

Hiking is exercise, which improves your overall physical fitness. You can find hikes that match any fitness level, from an easy stroll to a strenuous hike with significant climbs. Even the easy hikes will improve your health, including boosting your immunity and reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Walking is also a weight bearing exercise, so it enhances your bone density, lowering your risk of osteoporosis. It also lowers your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It strengthens many of your muscles, including your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and those in your hips and core.

Mental health Benefits

Hiking also helps your mental health. Physical exercise has been shown to improve depression, reduce anxiety, and decrease the symptoms of and manage several mental health conditions. Even for people who do not suffer from a mental health condition, physical activity can boost their mood and improve their overall mental health. Hiking increases the effects of the physical fitness on your mood by being in nature. Several studies have shown that being in nature improves a person’s mood, especially reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.

Stress Relief

Hiking also provides a great way to reduce feelings of stress. The combination of physical exertion and being in nature again enhances the overall effects of stress relief. Physical activity has been shown to reduce the stress and anxiety caused by the modern busy and stressful life. Being surrounded by nature also helps you to calm down and relax. Furthermore, hiking takes you away from the stressors in your life and allows you to have time to be relaxed and have fun, which also further reduces stress. Since stress is one of the leading causes of a many common illnesses, it is vital to have ways to relieve the stress in your life. 

Improves Cognitive Function

Hiking can also boost your brainpower and cognitive function. When you go hiking, you often have to use many different skills, such as problem solving skills. On longer hikes, you have to read a map, or you might need to follow a compass. You might also have to figure out how to get back if you get lost. Additionally, studies have shown that hiking improves your creative thought processes. It also provides a platform to continue to learn new things, such as information about the wildlife or flora that you encounter on your hikes.

Social Opportunities

Socializing is an important component of life. Studies have shown that being involved in a community and having a support network improves a person’s quality of life, as well as lead to a longer and healthier life. Although you can go hiking by yourself and gain many of the health benefits, hiking provides a great opportunity for socializing. You can go hiking with just one friend, invite a whole group, or join a local hiking club.

Hiking is a fun recreational activity that can be enjoyed safely by people of all ages, experience, and fitness levels. You can enjoy a simple hike, or if you are more adventurous, you can tackle difficult trails and weeklong backpacking trips. Whatever you choose, you will still benefit from an improved quality of life by enjoying the sport.

photo credit: marfis75 via photopin cc

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