Totalfit Blog

Benefits of Hiking: Physical, Mental and Beyond

Have you ever noticed how you feel after spending time outdoors or going for a hike? It's probably a feeling of being less stressed, more focused, and relaxed. This isn't a coincidence. Hiking provides numerous benefits for both physical and mental health. Some benefits are immediate, like lowered stress levels and blood pressure, increased immune function, and improved concentration. Others, like weight loss and reduced depression, can come with time. Totalfit focuses on holistic, optimal health. That’s why we love hiking. It’s for all ages, all fitness levels, and for body, mind, and spirit at one time.

Physical Health Benefits

Hiking can be highly beneficial for heart health as it involves cardiovascular exercise. Additionally, hiking can help to improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Not only that, but hiking can also help to strengthen leg muscles and improve core stability and balance. The more challenging the terrain, the more muscles are used to manage the steepness, which leads to greater overall stability and balance. Hiking can be adapted to suit all ability and age levels, from simple neighborhood paths to challenging mountain climbs. Hike intensity can also be adjusted to increase cardiovascular benefits, with hillier trails resulting in a greater workout for the heart.

Mental Health Benefits

According to research, hiking in mountainous areas with varying altitudes can increase positive emotions such as pleasure, happiness, and calmness at the same time decreasing negative emotions like anxiety and fatigue, lower cortisol levels, and even reduce repetitive negative thoughts and improve mental well-being, especially for people living in urban areas. Since many of us live in concrete jungles, this is great news. One study found that hikers had decreased brain activity in a part of the brain associated with withdrawal and rumination. That is reason enough to go for a hike! Being in nature can also improve cognition and emotions and promote mindfulness, which can reduce stress and blood pressure. Connecting our modernized, indoor lives to our primative, natural state brings us a new sense of mental balance we’re all searching for.

Bonus Benefits

Apart from the physical and mental benefits of hiking, there are some other benefits worth mentioning. Hiking can help you connect with nature and appreciate the beauty around you. It can also help you build relationships and create a sense of community, especially when hiking with friends or family.

Totalfit believes in the power of community. Renowned businessman Jim Rohn once said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” It is essential to surround yourself with a positive and motivating community – the people that support and motivate you to exercise, reach your goals, and bring about change.

Learn some tips that can help you build and sustain the right MINDSET in this article.
Hiking can also be an opportunity to learn new things, such as identifying plants and animals, understanding geology, and exploring history. Hiking can help you develop a sense of adventure and exploration, and encourage you to try new things.

How to Start

To get started, follow these simple steps:

  1. Begin with shorter hikes on more familiar trails near you.
  2. Wear stiffer-soled shoes to provide support and prevent injuries and dress appropriately for the weather.
  3. Bring enough fluids and snacks. Hangry hikers are not happy hikers!
  4. Use a map or smartphone app to plan your route.
  5. Try hiking with a friend to enhance your experience and connection.
  6. Make sure to tell someone of your hiking plans in you’re going solo, for safety reasons.

Give it a Try

Hiking is an excellent way to improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It’s a fun activity that provides numerous holistic health benefits beyond just physical fitness. Even if it doesn't become your favorite activity, it’s a chance to disconnect from technology and focus your energy on nature, your surroundings, and others, which will bring a moment of mindfulness to your day.

If you would like to learn some practical ways to boost your holistic health, read the article "7 Strategies to boost holistic health".