Hiking is one of the best activities you can do to help you lose weight and improve your mind. You go up mountains and down valleys, all the while gazing at incredible scenery. At the end of a good hike, you feel a profound sense of accomplishment. You traveled all those miles to be rewarded with what you see before you. Because of your efforts, the hiking health benefits are numerous.
Shed Those Pounds
If you are overweight or want to look a bit slimmer for that beach body, hiking is an excellent way to lose weight. In fact, a 175-pound person who hikes for 2 hours will burn 1,100 calories, assuming plenty of good hills and terrain variety to keep you busy. That is an incredible amount of weight lost without even discussing the other benefits yet.
When hiking though, you probably will not be burning a straightforward amount of calories as there will be two primary factors to consider.
Diet, current weight, age, and gender can all affect the amount of weight you lose. For this reason, you need to know your own body and you will see fat loss results from hiking. Out of all these factors, diet is the most important in combination with the exercise of hiking. When you manage what you eat in concert with consistent exercise, you will experience steady results.
On nearly every trail you decide to take, there will be hills and valleys to keep you busy. If you are going up hill, you will burn more calories than someone just hiking on an open plain over the same distance. The terrain, though, is not consistent, so each time will be different.
If you are looking for a more intense way to burn calories while hiking, then consider backpacking. To prepare for any backpacking trip, you do need to hike on a regular basis.
Boost Your Mental Health
In a previous article, I wrote all about the mental health benefits of hiking. If you want to read more, then I would encourage you to dive into it. When it comes to your brain, hiking helps a few different areas in your mind.
- Fight depression, hiking is a metaphor for life. There will be ups and downs, twists and turns, but, when you look back, you can feel pride in the journey you have accomplished. You feel that same feeling at the end of a good hike. You look from the top of a mountain or hill and swell with sweet emotion. If you hike with friends, then you bond with them through the mutual struggle.
- Boost your mood. When you hike, you release endorphins, a powerful peptide that uplifts your spirit. The trees, rocks, view, scenery, streams, smells, and sounds cause you to put your life into perspective. The fresh air swells your chest with joy and hope for the future.
- Creativity and problem solving ability, when you hike, you disconnect from technology. This forces you to be in the present moment and deal with the issue at hand. You have to look where you walk. The stimuli are emotionally positive and separate you from your problems, letting you escape from the past and future to the here and now. You can imagine greater for yourself after going on a hike.
Hiking is an excellent opportunity to strengthen old friendships and make new ones. Bringing a friend or a new one with you on a hike will immediately strengthen your bond. As such, hiking brings a number of benefits to friendships.
Hiking makes new friends. When you walk with someone, it creates a sense of mutual struggle. You both are battling the same problem. You both are on this journey together and you will support each other to make it to the other side. If you are looking for people to hike with, then check out MeetUp. You can find people who like to hike and hit the trail with them.
Strengthen bonds with old friends. As has said been in this article, there is a struggle to hiking. The hill ain’t getting any smaller. When you have a friendship with someone and then you go on a hike with them, your relationship is further strengthened by the shared experience of hiking. You encourage one another up the hillside. It deepens your relationship, whether it be with a friend, significant other, or sibling.
Friends make hiking a lot more fun. You bond with one another through the experience and push each other to your goals. You reach new heights because of each other’s support.
Making the Time to Go Hike
Each of us lives very busy lives. There are kids to take care of, jobs to go to, family to see, and friends to hang out with. This makes finding the time to go hiking quite difficult. If you want to gain all of these benefits, then be sure to follow the tips below.
- Set a regular schedule and stick with it. People do not stick to their weight loss goals because they are inconsistent about it. All of us are habitual. If you integrate a constant time to hike into your routine, then you are more likely to follow through.
- Push yourself just beyond your abilities. Hiking 5 miles can be quite fun. If it is beyond what you are capable of though, then you should not do it. When you push yourself far beyond your capabilities, then you risk never going on a hike again. Do what you know you will do on a regular basis.
- Bring friends with you or make new ones. People stay at lousy jobs with poor pay because of the social network there. The same idea applies to hiking. A hiking group will provide you with the positive support structure to keep you coming back.
Gear You Will Need
When hiking, there are a number of pieces of gear that you will need with you on a hike. If you do not have the right gear with you, then you risk not getting all the benefits of a proper hike. The gear is listed below.
- Backpack, this is the first piece of gear you will need with you on your hike. You will need it to store all the gear listed below.
- Sunscreen, the sun causes burns, which can lead to skin cancer. Take the bit of extra time and put some on your skin. You will be thanking yourself down the road.
- Multi tool, it helps quite a bit to have a multi tool. You can pop a beer bottle open or cut off some excess string. Its strength lies in its versatility. When you have a multi tool, you can do a lot in one tool.
- Compass, you can tell the direction just from the sun, but it helps to have a compass. You can use it with a map to locate your position.
- Topographical or trail map, when hiking, there are going to be a lot of different trails. It can be confusing to distinguish between all of them. To navigate, be sure to bring a map, so you can find your way.
- Whistle, with a whistle in hand, you can call for help or use it to help find a friend. If there are animals nearby, then you can use it to scare them off, making this is a versatile must have tool for the wild.
- Flashlight, darkness sets in quickly in the outdoors. It will surprise you how fast the sun goes down if you are not careful. For this reason, it is essential to have a flashlight when the sun goes down.
- Food or small snack, when I hike, I like to bring a cliff bar and some fruit. It helps to give me the energy I need to complete the hike.
- Rain gear, when hiking, there is always the possibility of rain. It happens, but it is no issue. Bring a poncho or rain jacket with you, so you can just shrug off the rain.
- Trekking poles, a lot of people overestimate their balance. Trekking poles are a great way to stay steady despite your body’s inclination to tip over. Your future self will thank you for the investment in a good pair of poles.
- Basic first aid kit, cuts, scrapes, and scratches do happen, but it is no big deal. You just need to patch it up and then you are all set to go.
- Hat, the sun can be quite harsh, so it is important to have plenty of sun protection. It will protect you from a nasty burn and keep you cool. If you are staring into the sun, it will also help to keep the sun out of your eyes.
- Dry bag or zip lock bag, if you have a phone or any other electronic with you, then you will want to keep it dry. If you have food with you, then a zip lock bag is an excellent place to store it.
- Toilet paper, your body has its own schedule, especially when it comes to going to the bathroom. You cannot really control it, so play it safe and bring a bit of biodegradable toilet paper with you in case nature strikes.
- Camel pack or water bottle, personally, I prefer a camel pack. They let you drink water while you are hiking, making it great for any trail. A water bottle is also another way to store water. Either way, you will need a way to keep water with you on your hike.
- Hiking boots, these are the critical foundation for your hiking trip. For anything over 5 miles, you do not want to use new boots or else you risk blisters and setting yourself back. If hiking under 5 miles, then new boots should be fine.
Hiking helps your body, social life, and mental well-being, making it an activity with many benefits. After the next hike you go on, you will realize the power inside you and your own potential. More than likely, there is a trail near you where you can get started. Hit the trail, find yourself, and boost your health!
If you have any thoughts, think I missed anything, or have a question, do not hesitate to comment below and please do share this article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!