It is widely known that getting outdoors and making exercise part of your daily routine can boost mood and enhance overall well-being. Therefore, it makes sense that a hike in nature can be beneficial for both the body and mind. Taking a hike through the mountains can increase these benefits.
Walking vs. Hiking
Is there a difference between a walk through the park and a hike through the mountains? While both get your blood pumping and your body moving, hiking uses significantly more energy than walking. When you take a walk through a park, you’re walking on mostly even terrain. Your legs are almost working on auto-pilot, and it doesn't require a lot of extra energy to keep moving.
When you walk on uneven terrains, like the one you would find in the mountains or on a trail through the forest—you use a lot more energy. This extra energy increases your heart rate and the number of calories you burn during the exercise.
A 2013 study published in The Journal of Experimental Biology found that hiking on uneven terrain increases the amount of energy you use by 28 percent compared to even terrain. This is largely due to the increased amount of work done by both the knees and hips. 1 The muscles used while hiking is different from those used on the solid ground, and frequent hiking can help improve both your stability and balance.
Benefits of Mountain Hiking
There’s something magical about hiking through the mountains that sets it apart from traditional workouts. Additionally, it provides a wide range of health benefits that many other exercises simply couldn't. The top benefits of hiking in the mountains, in particular, are outlined below.
Go at Your Own Pace
While everyone should incorporate some sort of exercise into their daily routine, going to the gym isn’t for everyone. Gyms are often filled with people who are interested in high-intensity workouts, and it can be intimidating for those who are just beginning to incorporate exercise into their life.
One of the major perks of hiking in the mountains is that you can set your own pace. There is no one around to judge you, and you can take all the time you need to simply relax and enjoy nature. You don’t need to climb Mount Everest to benefit from the mountains. Your hike can be as long or as short as you’d like, and you can increase the length or intensity as you see fit.
Tone Your Whole Body
You can spend time doing crunches, push-ups, and leg presses, but all of these exercises focus on one particular part of the body. When you hike, it helps tone every part of the body. Hiking up sharp inclines, climbing over rocks, and wading through rivers gives you a full-body workout without having to hit every exercise machine at the gym. Hiking focuses mainly on the lower half of your body, but if you are carrying a pack or doing any sort of climbing, your upper half gets a boost as well.
Boost Your Heart Health
Hiking is a great way to improve your overall cardiovascular fitness, especially in the mountains where you’ll be forced to hike up steep terrain. Hiking on a regular basis can help maintain healthy blood pressure, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of developing heart disease or diabetes.
A 2014 study tested the effects of hiking in mountain scenery on cardiovascular health in male patients suffering from metabolic syndrome. The results showed that those who hiked four times per week over the course of three weeks showed a significant improvement in overall cardiovascular health. All who participated also experienced an average weight loss of 3.13 kg (6.9 lbs). 2
Therapeutic Aspects of Nature
One of the main benefits of mountain hiking is that you are spending valuable time in nature. A 2011 study published in Environmental Science and Technology tested the effects of outdoor physical activities on physical and mental well-being.
Researchers found that those who exercised outdoors experienced greater feelings of revitalization, reduced feelings of tension and anger, and increased overall energy levels. 3
Of course, as much as you want to make hiking in the mountains a regular habit, daily life is busy. So, when you can’t manage to find the time to get out into nature, the next best thing is diffusing essential oils that bring the therapeutic aspects of nature into your own home.
Diffusing essential oils such as cedarwood, balsam fir, black spruce, and others can bring both the scents and the health benefits of the mountains to your home. Mountain provides a rejuvenating blend of juniper leaf, peppermint, Scotch pine, cypress leaf, Douglas fir, lemon, and thyme, mentally transporting you to the mountains until the next time you can plan to visit them in real life.
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