This year, I am an ambassador for Oboz Footwear. That means I’m doing a lot of hiking. Today, a rewrite of a post from the Trail Tales blog on the health benefits of lacing up your boots and hitting the trail.
I’m an exercise omnivore. I’m addicted to being outdoors and I love endorphins. When I can’t exercise, it’s like I’m in a cage. I need to be released.
While skiing, both alpine and nordic, is my preferred means of recharging body and soul during winter, spring, summer and fall find me on the trail, either running or hiking.
The Benefits of Hiking
I’ve written before about why I love running. I love the ease. I love the freedom. I love the inevitable “runner’s high.”
But for me, running is largely solitary. I like to set my pace and, like a skier on a powder day, I’ve got no friends when running.
Hiking Builds Friendships. Hiking is different. The pace is slower, the terrain more difficult and it’s a pursuit that’s made to be shared with family and friends. Hiking with others recharges my soul.
Hiking Builds Endurance. This is especially true if you’re working your way up and down hills or mountains. Pursue elevation change and don’t dawdle. Work your heart rate up to 70% of your maximum and keep there. Maintain a steady pace, but don’t forget to observe and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. It’s okay to stop and literally smell the wild roses.
Hiking Builds Strength. Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise that uses diverse muscle groups. Obviously, when propelling yourself down a trail you are using your legs. Uneven trails and terrain require core strength and hiking efficiently incorporates your arms and back. For even more of an upper body workout, you can use poles.
Hiking Builds Health. There are a lot great health-related reasons to get out and get moving. According to a fact sheet prepared by the American Hiking Society (which cites major medical studies), hiking can help reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, osteoporosis and arthritis.
Hiking Can’t Do It All
While there are plenty of great reasons to get out and hike, you’ll still want to mix it up and be an exercise omnivore.
As anyone who has overtrained for a cycling Century (been there) or an extended run (done that) knows, too much of any one activity can do more harm than good.
It’s especially important to make time in your routine for weights and stretching.
Our bodies are remarkable, with hundreds of muscles working concert as we move through life. Make time to recharge your body and your brain.
Mix it up. Enjoy the view.
- Hiking Colorado’s Western Slope, May 16, 2016.
- Costa Rica Rainforest Hiking: An Experience in Sight, Sound and Touch, July 21, 2014.
- Spring Escapes: Tropical Hiking on Maui, Snow-Filled Family Time at Alta, February 26, 2014.
- Keep Family Hiking Fun, April 29, 2013.
- Climb High and Touch the Sky: Hiking Courthouse Mountain, September 15, 2011.
- Getting Outside: Family Hiking on The Colorado National Monument, June 23, 2011.
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