No matter how old we get, June will always bring with it a feeling of release, of finally having the time to get outside and enjoy the glorious early summer weather. And with National Trails Day falling on June 1, what better way to do so than by lacing up your sneakers and heading out on a hike? Actively enjoying nature delivers countless health perks, both physical and mental, and many areas offer beautiful opportunities to do so. Read on to discover the benefits of hiking and some of the best trails within striking distance of your apartment building.
It Lowers Stress!
To experience the stress-reducing perks of being out in nature, you don’t even necessarily have to be walking. Just being surrounded be trees and greenery has been found to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in as little as 15 minutes. Meanwhile, avid hikers credit the tranquility and beauty of the outdoors as helping them forget their worries and to-do lists.
It Burns Calories!
Put simply, hiking is a superior workout. The reason: Walking on the uneven surfaces of hiking trails recruits the smaller, stabilizing muscles in the legs in addition the large hamstrings, quads and glutes to build lean muscle mass and increase fat burn. Add in a backpack and trekking poles to activate the core and arms and you have a total body workout. What’s more, sustained uphill treks mean a consistently elevated heart rate, improving cardiovascular fitness and burning upwards of 500 calories per hour.
It Strengthens Bones!
Like dancing or walking on a flat road, hiking is a weight-bearing activity. Weight-bearing exercises increase the activity of the cells that maintain bone density, promote the formation of new bone cells and prevent the breakdown of old ones. Traversing tricky surfaces also engages the core muscles, improving balance and flexibility and decreasing changes of falls.
It Boosts Mood!
Hiking engages all the senses; it’s crucial to be alert and completely in the moment in order to avoid injuries or strolls down the wrong path. Unless it’s being used as a map, cell phones are often stowed during hikes, and with them the distractions and complex emotions that come accompany social media. Putting all of this away for a few hours and focusing on the beauty and wildness of nature promotes a sense of peace, calm and happiness.
Do you have a favorite hiking trail near your apartment? Comment on our latest Instagram post @powerforlifefitness and share it with us!