14 health benefits of trekking
Most of us know the importance of exercise. However, it is vital to prioritize the activity that gives us the most significant health benefit with increasingly busy lives. Working out at a gym might appear less than desirable after a day of sitting at a desk in the office. Therefore, it is not surprising that an increasing number of people are beginning to ditch the gym and have started hitting the trails to enhance their health. Moreover, the great news is that just half an hour of walking or hiking can make a fantastic impact on your health.
Trekking in the mighty Himalayas or any mountainous area offers a wide range of benefits to our mind, body, and soul: the breathtakingly picturesque views, the serene and quiet moments of self-reflection. Trekking and backpacking outdoors give so many health benefits that range from the physical to mental and the spiritual. There is something naturally majestic, gratifying, which eventually provides an abundance of confidence as you increase your habit of trekking in the lap of mother nature.
One major benefit of trekking is under the sun. The sun is the best source of vitamin D. It has a major contribution to the benefits 5 – 8 listed below. Are you aware that about 1 billion people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency?
1. Experience the rich flora and fauna
You can come across unusual birds, diverse wildlife, beautiful plants, and trees with medicinal valuable healing properties that can rarely be spotted in crowded cities.
2. Invigorated heart and lungs
You can get clean, fresh air that enhances your respiratory system and the capacity of the lungs. The more fresh air you breathe, the more capable your lungs become; the more blood the heart pumps, the healthier it gets. In addition, hiking for more extended periods with a backpack makes for a great cardiovascular workout, especially when you push yourself to a point when talking becomes quite difficult. Giving yourself good exercise not only invigorates your heart but also lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
3. Improved Fitness and Weight Loss
Several surveys show that extended periods of daily hiking with a backpack between 6-8 hours turn the body into a competent fat burning and testosterone-fueled machine. Trekking involves walking up and downhills. The uphill walks can bring the heart close to the target heart rate while giving it time to recover on the downhill walks.
4. Perseverance and Discipline
Long-distance walking while persevering to reach a destination tests the hiker’s patience and determination. The trekkers must abide by a few guidelines and remain disciplined on the mountains as the hills share risks. Trekking can be a solo activity or in a group; if trekking in a group, teamwork needs to be involved while walking with the team. Helping each other adds to the fun of the journey while motivating the less experienced hikers.
5. Mental benefits
Mountains can provide an unmistakable serenity level that is rarely available in a city’s hustle and bustle. The scenic views,
The picturesque views, captivating water bodies, the snow-clad mountains, and the beautiful starry nights help calmer and soothe the mind. The breathing of fresh air, admiring the breathtaking nature makes our bodies release endorphins, a happy hormone that reduces stress levels and makes us happy.
6. Longer life.
Research has shown that just hiking for 8 kilometres at a slow pace is sufficient to reduce the risk of strokes, heart failures, and heart attacks slightly above 30%. 8 kilometres is estimated at around 10,000 steps. You can monitor this in one of the several modern smart gadgets. Studies have also shown that remaining active is a significant way to reduce the risk of cancer. Working out lowers the estrogen in your bloodstream, which can be the main reason why breast cancer inactive women are less likely.
7. Revamp your mood
Doctors encourage exercise such as walking to avoid depression increasingly, and numerous clinical studies have shown that training has improved depressive symptoms almost as well as the medicine for anti-depression. In addition, trekking is a perfect mood booster as it combines the physical benefits of a workout with the added mental health of being in nature while socializing with other hikers on the trail.
Increasing studies show a link between mental wellbeing and the number of time people spend in nature. In addition, some clinical studies have shown other benefits of spending extended periods in nature: reducing stress and blood pressure, improved energy levels, and sound sleep.
In the ever-increasing fast-paced society, increased emotional well-being and reduced stress are some of the great health benefits of trekking!
8. Strong and Agile bones
The leg muscles’ agility and flexibility increase with the up and down walk on the undulating terrain. Trekkers have well-toned leg muscles, which not only look good but also makes the ankles more stable. Some trails involve climbing as much as 1000 meters and the same descent, which provides an excellent workout to the legs, core, and arm muscles. Hiking with a reasonably heavy backpack can help in the increment of your bone density.
It has been recorded that trekking has helped people with arthritis and back pain (you need to adjust your backpack’s straps to avoid more damage). The hiking trails can be a mixture of comfortable soft ground or rocky paths that can twist your ankle, and you need to be mindful when hiking. Carrying a suitable load is useful not just to give yourself a better workout but it is a perfect way to increase your bone density. An added benefit of trekking is being a low impact way of exercising, which is ideal for those who suffer from joint pain.
9) Improve your balance
Hiking on the hills is an excellent way to improve mental agility to strengthen your core, which in turn helps to improve your balance. The irregular surface helps the small muscles stabilize your ankles to get stronger and react faster when you lose balance. These muscles are essential for proprioception – it is your body’s sixth sense, which helps give you the ability to catch yourself when you trip or prevents tripping with better balance. Unfortunately, this ‘sixth sense’ will decline like all muscles if we stop using them, especially when we get older, making us more likely to get injured from falls in old age.
10) Increase focus and productivity
It has been proven that a meagre ten minutes of movement can increase productivity and mental focus. It is good to go out and walk during the lunch break. One can improve your attention by reducing stress and increasing physical fitness by going on extended hikes during the weekend breaks. You will benefit from some of the best ideas that come when hiking on the lap of mother nature away from your work desk.
11. Experience local cultures and local food
Trekking can bring one across a vast area and involve going through some remote villages. You can stay with locals in the growing number of homestays, taste their local food, and learn about their culture; these fantastic experiences are only available to those who walk as there are no roads to bring in mass numbers of visitors.
12. Survival Instincts
One can learn to sustain oneself with minimum resources while trekking. You can put yourself out of the comfort zone into unfamiliar territory, and conditions can turn bad without much warning as it does in the mountains – a test for both your mental and physical prowess. It is better equipped to handle emergencies such as water shortage, food, start a fire, wilderness first aid, making temporary shelters if you plan on going for an extended period into a remote area to hike. Be sure to inform friends and family of your planned route, estimated places you plan to stay overnight, etcetera if you miss a turn or take the wrong trail.
13. Disconnect From Technology
You will be away from your laptops, perhaps even cell phone networks, television, and many other distracting gadgets once you are in the hills. The freedom from these gadgets can re-teach you to appreciate and reconnect with nature while being independent of electronic devices. Trekking in nature is a great way to reconnect with yourself, self-discovery, and reflection.
14) Make new friends!
We all know how fun it is to meet like-minded people, but a bonus is the health benefits of making new friends. It has been proven that adults with more extensive social circles have lower blood pressure and live longer.
Being with a group of like-minded people with common goals on hiking trips can increase one’s sense of belonging and purpose – a great way to enhance your emotional wellbeing.
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Disclaimer on Wellness Articles
NOTE: Raj Tamang is a wellness aficionado, focusing on keeping trekkers and his team members fit through diet and proper treatment during their treks. While Raj has no formal qualifications in this field, he has done plenty of research over the years. As a result, he understands the benefits of keeping healthy and using whole foods to correctly nourish himself and his team. Please note, while Raj is experienced in wellness, his advice should not be taken above or instead of medical professionals’ guidance.