I love golf and have played it for more than half a century, but with slower play, the often mandatory use of power golf carts, and increased costs, I’ve been on the lookout for other engaging activities. Hiking has filled the bill and then some.
In golf, I enjoy the variety of one unique course to another and with hiking I likewise find one trail totally different from another. The beauty I enjoy on the golf course quickly translates into the same magnificent nature and vistas I experience hiking. Besides I can go as fast or as slow as I want, hit no bad shots, lose no golf balls or suffer any penalty shots, and the out-of-pocket expenses are essentially zero. I can stop and enjoy the view, eat or take a picture with my camera, and I’m never holding anyone up. What’s even more important to everyone is that hiking provides a great way to burn calories, tone muscles, and keeps the heart pumping better, improving our overall physical fitness and even mental clarity. It’s the best exercise!
Here are some of the amazing health benefits that hiking provides:
Torch those calories – Hiking is a great way to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. A 155-pound person burns an average of 370 calories per hour. Increase your burn rate by hiking a more challenging terrain.
Tone your lower body – Because walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it strengthens and tones the muscles in your legs. It also places pressure on your bones, which increases bone density and prevents osteoporosis. Plus, trails with a higher level of difficulty will force your legs to work even harder, providing even better results.
Improve your cardio-respiratory fitness – Hiking helps to dilate arteries, which reduces blood pressure and takes some of the stress off the heart. Plus, if you choose to hike at a more rapid pace, you’ll turn your hike into an aerobic workout, thus strengthening your heart.
Relieve back pain – Approximately 80% of Americans suffer from low back pain at one time or another. Depending on the cause and severity of the issue, walking has been found to be the best preventive measure and treatment of the most common kinds of muscular backache. It does not subject your back to the repeated impact produced by jogging or other aerobic activities, and puts less stress on the spine.
Reduce anxiety – If adrenaline, which is produced by the body to cope with real or perceived danger, isn’t released from the body, it accumulates, causing muscle tension and anxiety. In a study testing 36 people, results showed immediate decreases in tension and anxiety as a result of walking for 40 minutes.
Get happy – Walking causes the release of endorphins, also known as the happy hormones. Plus, being outside in nature can evoke a sense of calm and help to clear the mind of everyday obligations and stresses. Alternatively, if you hike with someone, you can enjoy wonderful conversations and share the experience.
Feel accomplished – A difficult hike up a hill or mountain can make you feel like you’ve achieved something greater than completing a workout in a gym. Increase your feelings of fulfillment by taking on ever increasingly difficult hikes. Unlike a disappointing score on the golf course that may bring many down, enjoying fresh air and nature always provides an emotional lift.
Golf is a great game, but it’s not for everyone – walking is. Don’t you think it is time to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature with a nice, long hike? Did you know that this favored outdoor activity is also a great form of exercise for body and mind? Get ready to hit the trails and walk your way to these amazing health benefits.
Author Bob Fagan loves golf, but increasingly he is trading his clubs for hiking poles as shown here at the Pinnacles National Park in California.