Besides fishing with your pals or sharing stories around a crackling bonfire while roasting marshmallows under the stars, it’s difficult to imagine a more apt camping and outdoor bonding activity than hiking.
If you’ve ever tried hiking before — whether it was when you were a kid or if it was only a few years or months ago, it’s easy to understand how rewarding hiking is on many levels.
Walking through tall grassy trails, looking up towards the overhead tree canopy as it shades the forest floor that smells like fresh growth, focusing on each step as you make your way to the awe-inspiring summit – it’s an experience that has so much simplicity yet with so much depth.
As similar in nature as they seem, all hikes are all different. No matter how similar the land or terrain may be, or if you hike with the same pals or family members, every hike ends up having it own, unique energy to it.
While the hike itself is often rewarding enough, the benefits of hiking go way beyond the beautiful scenery.
Hiking offers a number of benefits that can help you and your family feel and be your best. We’re here to fill you in on all of these benefits and how you can begin experiencing them today.
Top Benefits of Hiking with the Whole Family
There’s nothing like soaking up some outdoor adventure with the whole family. Not only does it create lasting memories, but you know you’re doing yourself and everyone in your family some good. Being active outside just feels good.
Everyone’s a little happier, sleeps a bit better and laughs a bit more. However, besides instinctually knowing that outdoor adventure or hiking, in particular, is beneficial, there are specific, proven benefits of hiking that will make your next outing feel even better.
1. Increased Family Fitness
Only an hour of trekking can burn over 500 calories.
While this heavily depends on the amount of incline you’re facing and the weight of your backpack, trekking, in general, can burn a significant amount of calories.
Hiking trails are usually easier on one’s joints, knees, and ankles than concrete and running activities, making it a great activity choice for families with older members.
If you’re planning on heading for some higher located hiking trails, get ready to lose even more weight.
On top of the calories you’re burning through the physical activity, altitude is also a weight loss companion.
So, shoot for the highest mountains!
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2. Take Control of your Workouts
Hiking allows you to make your own course.
Do you prefer steep treks or a scenic plateau trail?
Do you enjoy jogging through the woods or do you like to stop and smell the flowers along the way?
Whatever you choose, and whatever your preference, you won’t have some terrifying trainer breathing down your neck.
In this sense, you’re your own boss, which also provides a sense of empowerment.
3. Tones the Entire Body
While certain types of workouts focus specifically on certain parts of the body, regular walking while taking on sharp inclines and climbing over rocks challenges your entire body.
While your entire body will receive a hard-core workout, your lower body will feel it the most, specifically your glues, quads, and hamstrings.
Throw on a backpack and you’ll be challenging your endurance and strength of your upper body as well.
4. Prevents and Controls Diabetes
Hiking on a regular basis helps you prevent and control diabetes by reducing your blood sugar levels.
Also, hiking works your muscles on an intense level, which moves the glucose from your bloodstream to provide you with energy.
Worried about developing diabetes? Take a hike!
5. Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Hiking can also decrease cholesterol and blood pressure which therefore reduces any danger of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
While this is great to introduce to your children or younger family members, helping them develop healthy habits and experiences at a young age, it’s also great for individuals who are at high risk.
In fact, hiking on an downline is twice as effective at removing blood sugar and boosting glucose tolerance.
So not only can lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol be possible naturally, but it doesn’t even need to be that difficult or straining.
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6. Hiking Heals All
A lot of researchers suggest that the benefits of hiking go far beyond cardiovascular health. In fact, there’s research that points towards hiking being able to help with the recovering process for cancer patients.
The International Journal of Sports Medicine published a study which stated that long-distance hiking trips can boost antioxidative capacity, which fights disease, especially in oncological patient’s blood.
Many breast cancer survivors also believe physical activity, or hiking specifically, has helped in their treatment recovery, when done regularly.
7. Helps You to Be More Social
Hiking can effortlessly connect you to like-minded people.
Whether it be on the trail or through a hiking group meetup, a regular planning long-distance trek can help you create strong bonds with people.
This is especially beneficial for families. If you believe your family needs some more bonding time, plan a long-distance hiking trip together, that comes fully-prepared so you can enjoy your family adventure stress-free.
If you’re looking to interact with the wider hiking community, this can encourage you to incorporate your workout as a lifestyle rather than something you feel that you need to do.
This will encourage you to stick with the sport for the long-run.
8. Boosts Creativity
Spending time outdoors can actually boost your creative problem-solving skills while increasing your attention spans.
In fact, a study showed that spending time in the wilderness can increase these areas by 50%.
The study also mentions that the results may have been influenced by being disconnected from technology as well.
Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education researchers have also found that taking a hike or a walk as opposed to sitting helps move those creative juices a lot better.
9. Increases Happiness and Prevents Depression
Hiking along with other forms of therapy can help support people suffering from severe depression.
Research shows that spending time outdoors can help people feel less depressed, suicidal and hopeless.
A jaunt or frolic outside can also help inspire sufferers to lead a more productive and active lifestyle in the future.
10. Connects Yourself to Nature
If it isn’t obvious before, we can now come to the conclusion that spending time outside in nature does a lot for our overall health. Throw some physical activity in there and you have yourself a full and healthy life.
However, hiking not only heals through nature, but it helps you connect to nature as well, which also has its range of benefits.
Being disconnected from the chaos of cities or daily lives, technology, and drama can help people connect with themselves and the surrounding nature that brings on a true sense of peacefulness and joyous well-being.
11. Helps your Children
While a lot of these benefits are directed at adults, children can benefit from hiking in a myriad of ways as well.
It helps children become physically active and fit at a young age, which tends to carry over into later years. They’ll also sleep a lot better and become more attentive in the classroom.
Plus, being outdoors, overcoming challenges and being physically fit can help boost their confidence.
However, before you start planning your family hiking trip for Mount Rainier, you need to make sure your child is physically prepared for whatever trek you choose. Start off easy and work your way up – literally.
How to Start Bringing the Benefits of Hiking into Your Life
So, now that you’ve caught a glimpse of how rewarding and beneficial hiking can be for you and your family or loved ones, it’s time to incorporate these benefits into your life.
First thing’s first, you need a plan.
Search for the best hiking trail in your region and figure out if it’s suitable for you and everyone in your family.
Next, start preparing.
Depending on how long your hike is, you may need to do some serious research on what to bring with you.
And while you’re at it, start getting your family pumped up. Encourage them to help you plan and prepare. Give family members different tasks or projects: someone can be in charge of homemade hiking snacks while another person can map out the route.
After that, all you need to do is follow the plan and soak up all the mental and physical benefits hiking provides, along with the invaluable memories it brings.