Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in America and across the globe. Each year, one out of five fatalities among females are caused by heart diseases – a tragedy which could have been prevented through proper education on living a healthier life.
The Cardiovascular Benefits of Hiking: How Does Hiking Benefit Heart Health?
To maintain a sound state of health, particularly in terms of heart wellness, it is essential to keep our bodies and minds active. One enjoyable way to achieve this goal is by spending time outdoors. Taking time to get out in nature has been scientifically linked with a decrease in the risk of heart disease due to increased vitamin D levels, improved sleep quality and enhanced social connectedness.
Hiking Can Help Increase Your Blood Flow
Ascending steep inclines on a hiking trail may be daunting, but it’s actually great for your cardiovascular system! Even if you’re tackling less challenging terrain, there are still healthy gains to reap from the activity. Cardiovascular exercise, such as hiking, increases the amount of oxygen in your body by raising both your heart rate and respiratory rate. This increased blood flow helps prevent blockages from developing around the small vessels near the heart.
Even though hiking may not appear to raise your heart rate as rapidly as running or other intensive cardio exercises, it is still capable of getting the blood flowing! The increased blood circulation associated with such physical activity can help prevent blockages around the heart and reduce the risk of developing heart disease in the long run.
Hiking Improves Cardiovascular Fitness
Hiking has many positive impacts on your heart health, but one of the most notable is how it can increase your cardiovascular fitness. This measure evaluates how effectively the lungs and heart collaborate to give oxygenated blood to your muscles during strenuous activity.
A Harvard-based study demonstrated that hiking is an ideal way to improve your cardiovascular health, as it can increase heart rate enough to provide a great workout but remains safe for all age and fitness levels. You don’t have to worry about the strain on your heart when you’re out in nature enjoying yourself!
Exercise is the perfect way to wake those sleepy muscles and get your joints moving again. If you’ve never tried hiking before or only done it occasionally, there’s no better time than now to start! With its various slopes and terrains, hiking requires working several muscle groups: quadriceps, calves glutes, calves; abdominals, lower back and obliques – and most important – your heart.
Hiking Can Help Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol is a grave risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. The Mayo Clinic study has reported that high levels of it increase your likelihood of forming fatty deposits in the blood vessels, which can eventually break off and cause life-threatening heart attacks or strokes.
Engaging in physical activities such as hiking can benefit your cardiovascular health by increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels while simultaneously lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. This helps to ensure that the arteries remain clean and clear, decreasing your odds of developing heart disease.
Hiking Can Help You Lose Weight
If you are overweight or obese, your risk of developing heart disease is significantly higher. The CDC asserts that obesity raises the probability of having hypertension, high cholesterol levels, and type 2 diabetes – all conditions which can increase one’s chances of getting cardiovascular-related illnesses.
Hiking is a great way to help you slim down and lower your risk of heart disease. You can burn an incredible amount of calories while hiking, leading to those desired fat loss results—all the more reason for that six-pack abs shot! Moreover, striking off on foot helps reduce blood pressure levels as well as cholesterol reading – both essential elements in ensuring good cardiovascular health.
Going for a hike can offer natural stress relief
Physically, hiking is beneficial for your heart health. But what you may not realize is that it can also improve your mental well-being! Several smaller studies imply that taking some time in nature-friendly locations, such as woodlands and parks may help people to reduce the stress levels which contribute to elevated blood pressure and increases the risk of heart disease.
Dr. Baggish, an avid runner who frequently traverses the challenging terrain of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, expresses how being outdoors offers a unique sense of tranquility and serenity that can’t be found anywhere else.
Other Health Benefits
Build strong muscles & bones
Inclines are great for honing in on your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves while downhill sections help bolster the strength of your knees and hip flexors. Not to mention if you wear a backpack – that added weight works wonders for strengthening your shoulders, arms and back. But wait! There’s more; hiking activates all the muscles around your core which helps stabilize those tricky torso movements making it an overall full body workout experience like no other.
Steep hikes are not only a powerful way to build your muscles but also make an ideal workout for strengthening your bones. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has proven that working against gravity is essential for bone health and can help increase the density, strength, and overall mass of our bones.
Improve your balance
If you desire to bolster your balance, hiking is the activity for you! With its reliance on multiple muscle groups, it helps solidify total strength and steadiness. Especially notable are hikes’ effects on your hips and core muscles — these areas when strengthened give you the confidence to traverse any uneven terrain without worry. Cultivating better equilibrium will substantially improve how enjoyable life can be as we age; with good balance comes a lower risk of injury due to falls.
Get better sleep
Numerous studies demonstrate that exercise is a great way to achieve better sleep quality, and hiking fits right into this category. Not only does it provide physical energy output but also mental stimulation in the form of studying maps, navigating trails and pushing through difficult hikes which can require a lot of psychological strength. Ultimately, joining the two together results in an ideal night’s slumber due to both mind and body relaxation from the day’s activity!
Backed by extensive data, the connection between hiking and better sleep is undeniable. Dr. Karen Carlson, a Harvard Medical School associate professor of medicine, attests that exercise can be used to strengthen hormones like melatonin which are essential for healthy sleeping patterns.
With the mental and physical benefits of hiking, it’s no wonder why so many people are drawn to this incredible activity. Even if you’re an experienced hiker or a novice looking for your first adventure out on the trails, we want to empower you with these amazing advantages that come along with hitting those paths. If you need more trail inspiration and ideas, head over to our Blog for some of their great recommendations! So lace up your shoes and enjoy every moment – happy hiking!