I know you have probably heard this phrase before.
TAKE A HIKE!
Maybe it was said in a mean or sarcastic way. But the truth is. TAKING A HIKE IS very good for you. Especially hiking in a natural setting like we have in Bella Vista. Research is showing that there is certainly many benefits of hiking regularly.
Less Stress and better cognitive function
A study by Gregory Bratman, a graduate student in Stanford’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources indicated that time in nature was found to have a positive effect on mood and aspects of cognitive function, including working memory, as well as a dampening effect on anxiety. The study had participants walking 50 minutes in a natural environment and 50 minutes in an urban environment. Guess which group were less stressed, had less anxiety and increased their work performance?
There are definite mental health benefits of hiking in a peaceful rural setting as opposed to an urban setting.
Better Sleep Quality
Those who exercise regularly have better sleep – without waking up as much during the night and tend to wake up refreshed.
This was studied by the National Sleep Foundation.
Plus, contrary to what many of us have believed, exercising before bed was not detrimental to sleep quality.
Connecting with Nature
According to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, while physical activity has a multitude of benefits, exercising outdoors has even greater benefits:
- it reduces stress in a natural way
- it promotes alertness and
- increases attention span
Getting out and away from the hustle and bustle of an urban life can put you into a meditative space, almost like self-hypnosis.
Hiking Strengthens Your Bones
It is proven that hiking and other weight-bearing exercise increases your bone density. As we age, our bones will begin to lose density and the risk of osteoporosis increases drastically. Osteoporosis causes bones to become frail and porous. Falling with porous bones can result all too often in fractures, especially of the hip. Research indicates that 1 in 5 persons with hip fractures will have fatal complications within 1 year. There is also the much-increased need for those with hip fractures to enter assisted living and care facilities.
Exercise, like hiking, is a good idea for achieving better bone health. You can also supplement with Vitamin D and calcium (more about that in a later post).
Promotes Natural Healing
A Huffington Post article details research suggests hiking is a way for cancer patients to recover more quickly. They measured this through“oxidative stress”, which is believed to play a role in the onset and severity of cancer. The research found that long hikes have antioxidant properties to fight off disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, walking a half hour every day will help battle viruses, chronic conditions and extend your life, so this half hour is important – even if you need to start slowly – a few minutes at first and then increasing the length and difficulty gradually.
Hiking Helps Keep our Heart Healthy
Hiking up and down hills counts as cardiovascular exercise. This workout will help keep your heart in shape and pumping well. Of course, if you are just starting out, you should take it easy for a while and work up to the “pumping heart” level.
Hiking Helps With Controlling Your Weight
Hiking can burn up around 250 calories an hour. Also, continued hiking will allow you to keep the weight off once you lose it.
Moving our body in an exercise like hiking can help many parts of your body ( feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips, butt, abdomen, arms, shoulders and neck).
Living in and near a natural environment like Bella Vista, we are fortunate to have miles upon miles of trails with pleasant, even beautiful views of waterfalls, rolling hills, forests, and lakes. Our mild weather also allows for the practically year-round ability to get outside and take to the trails.
Hiking can be done alone or with a group such as the Hill N Dale Hiking Club here in Bella Vista. The Bella Vista Online Mall’s “Hiking Shop” offers various equipment you may want if you take up regular hiking.
I enjoy getting your comments and questions. You may leave them in the form below. – Shirley