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10 Benefits of Day Hikes for Overall Health

10 Benefits of Day Hikes for Overall Health

by Mikayla Merchant | June 08, 2020

At a time when we’re all staying close to home, the benefits of day hikes for overall health shouldn’t be overlooked. Getting outdoors and spending time in the fresh air and sunshine offers numerous benefits for the mind and body. Even a short day hike provides the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery, get your heart rate up, and combat stress.

One of the greatest benefits of day hiking is that you don’t have to travel far from home or carry a lot of gear. Proper footwear and a simple day bag packed with water, snacks, and a basic first-aid kit will do. A day hike is perfect for beginning hikers because you can go at your own pace, for as many miles or hours as you like, then simply hop in your car and head home.

Day hikes are a wonderful experience and they get you out of the house and into the great outdoors. If you need more convincing, here are 10 benefits of day hikes for your mental and physical health you may not know about.

The Benefits of Day Hikes for Overall Health

1. Hiking Improves Cardio and Respiratory Health.

Day hiking is a fantastic and enjoyable way to get a sustained cardio workout. Hitting local trails will give you a health boost by conditioning the lungs, heart, and arteries. Consistent, brisk walking on a regular basis can support cardio and respiratory health by improving the lungs’ and heart’s ability to pump oxygen and blood through the body.

Not only that but hiking regularly improves your body’s ability to handle cardiovascular stress. Over time, you’ll be able to hike further, which improves your health even further.

2. Day Hiking Lowers the Risk of High Cholesterol

Even if you do your best to eat a healthy diet, not getting enough exercise increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease related to high cholesterol. Day hiking is an excellent way to get the moderate-intensity aerobic exercise that helps to regulate high cholesterol and triglycerides. Consistent exercise can raise your body’s level of good cholesterol while lowering the bad.

3. Hiking Clears the Mind and Lowers Stress Levels.

Our lives are more stressful now than ever before, and all that stress can keep you up at night and have serious consequences for your health. Continuous stress leads to sleep issues, headaches, fatigue, and even stomach issues. Thankfully, exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Day hiking is the perfect way to clear the mind and get some peaceful time to yourself while enjoying the stress-relieving benefits of exercise.

4. Day Hiking Can Help You Sleep Better.

Hiking over uneven terrain burns more energy than walking on flat ground. It also gets you away from phones, computers, and TVs that can bring more stress and anxiety into your daily life. This results in a more relaxed mind and a tired body, which leads to better sleep.

5. Hiking Can Improve Your Memory.

Spending time in nature regularly can improve your memory and your ability to concentrate at work or school. Day hiking is an enjoyable way to get out in nature every week.

6. Day Hiking Supports Weight Loss.

Losing weight can be a real struggle, but when you’re hiking in a beautiful place, it doesn’t seem like hard work anymore. Exercise becomes a fun and enjoyable activity to look forward to. You might be surprised to find that you enjoy hitting the trail for a day hike every weekend, and don’t even equate it with calorie-burning exercise. One of the biggest reasons people struggle with weight loss is that they hate going to the gym, but day hiking encourages a healthier lifestyle in a much more enjoyable way.

7. Hiking Strengthens Your Leg Muscles.

Day hiking is a fantastic leg workout, and it is way more effective and fun than doing squats. Not only will you feel the burn on the day of your hike, but you’ll also feel it for a day or two afterward as well.

8. Hiking Tones Your Core.

Walking on uneven terrain and up and down hills gives your lower back, obliques, and abs a great workout, especially when you’re carrying your day pack. You’ll work your core muscles keeping your body stabilized and you’ll burn calories even faster. There’s no more enjoyable way to get killer abs! 

9. Day Hiking is Beneficial for Those with Diabetes.

Preventing and relieving diabetes starts with eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. Walking is a highly recommended form of exercise for people who have diabetes. Hiking is even more beneficial than walking because you’re using more muscles and strength due to the uneven terrain. 

10. Day Hiking Opens Up Your World to New Experiences.

Local day hikes provide an opportunity to see things that you would never see by car. Every time you go out, you’ll find new adventures. You and your family can have an amazing outdoor experience without having to travel far or pack a lot of gear. Experiencing new sites and getting out in nature is something people of all ages can look forward to.

Wrap Up

Day hiking is a fantastic form of exercise for all ages and it provides an array of mental and physical health benefits. If you haven’t begun to enjoy the benefits of day hikes in your local area, now is a great time to start!

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