Whether you belong to a group of experienced wilderness adventurers or you’re a newbie to the world of national park backpacking, now is the perfect time to take a hike. The fall foliage, lack of insects, and cooler temperatures can make an autumn hiking trip ideal. But regardless of the time of year, backpacking trips can be highly beneficial to your health — maybe in ways you would have never realized.
Here are three of the best health-related reasons to take a hike at any time of year:
- Hiking burns calories
This one is probably the most obvious benefit, but it’s an important one. Hiking and backpacking are fantastic workouts. Exercising on a machine in the gym can get boring, which means you’re not working out to your full potential. Switching up your routine in uneven terrain with new challenges will keep your muscles guessing and get your heart pumping. Although hiking alone is excellent exercise, carrying backpacking gear can give your workout that extra edge. If you weigh 155 pounds and carry just 10 to 20 pounds of backpacking gear (though you’d be carrying at least 30 pounds on a 5-6-day backpack trip, so you’ll be burning even more calories!), you’ll burn around 528 calories an hour while climbing those hills. That’s way more than you can achieve on the treadmill, and your hiking workout will definitely keep your interest!
- National park backpacking can help soothe existing conditions
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, regular hiking can help you considerably. The fresh air and muscular workouts can reduce blood sugar levels and can increase your stamina. You’ll therefore lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. This can be especially important for those who are genetically predisposed to these conditions. Prevention is by far the best medicine, and you’ll have fun doing it!
- Wilderness travel can boost your mood
If you’re in a foul mood or are even suffering from depression, fitting in an outdoor workout can do wonders for your state of mind. Because it’s a social activity and you’ll release endorphins, you’ll probably notice you’re in a much happier state after your hike. These activities have also been shown to increase creativity and a sense of peace by connecting with nature. The idea of being healthy in both body and mind has never been more applicable than it is to hiking and backpacking.
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