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11 Health Benefits of Hiking & Trekking (Feel fitter and happier)

Take a hike.

For some reason, that modern phrase seems to have negative connotations.

But, if you take it literally, it’s a fantastic suggestion.

Now, most of us are aware that walking outdoors comes with an abundance of perks.

Naturally (no pun intended), there are the scenic views you can enjoy, the gorgeous fresh air you can breathe in, and the proximity to nature.

But, do you want to know the best part?

To add to the wonder of the sights and sounds and smells you encounter, the health benefits of hiking are plentiful, to say the least.

Now, you’ve probably heard this before. But, what exactly are they?

Read on to find out more about 11 of the major physical and mental benefits of hiking:


1. Firstly, there’s the obvious fitness element.

OverBoard Blog 11 Health Benefits of Hiking

    One of the biggest reasons that many people start, and one of the major benefits of hiking, is for weight loss purposes.

      Hiking is an excellent cardiovascular workout that can help you shed fat and burn calories (while still being enjoyable).

      In fact, one hour of trekking can burn around 500 calories.

      Of course, this depends on how much of an incline you’re hiking up, and how much your hiking backpack weighs. Head for the hills if you want to see optimum weight loss results and burn some serious calories.

      Another perk (when compared to many other types of workouts such as running on concrete) is that since hiking trails are usually on the softer side, they’re much easier on your joints.

      So, for those of you looking to lose weight or simply maintain your weight, fit a regular hike into your schedule. You won’t even notice those calories slipping away.


      2. Hiking boosts your mood.

      The mental benefits of hiking are profound. Not only can being out in nature help us deal with stress, but the physical aspect of hiking also helps manufacture endorphins as it is essentially a terrific workout.

      In fact, the psychological benefits of hiking are many:

      Want to feel instantly happier?

      Go on a hike.

      OverBoard Blog 11 Health Benefits of Hiking

      Want to deal with any winter blues or even feelings of depression? Research has been conducted to show that hiking can be used as a type of therapy to help those suffering from depression.

      If you haven’t been active for a while, it can be a relatively easy way to start to build your way up to a more active lifestyle. Activity = endorphins which are proven to be mood boosting.

      Part of it could also be that being in nature and disconnecting (even if just for a bit) from the hecticness of our daily lives, can bring peace and an opportunity to reconnect with oneself.


      3. Another one of the health benefits of hiking in the woods?

      It makes you stronger.

      Yep, hiking can help improve your balance and strengthen your core as it works your muscles.

      In fact, as you navigate across more uneven terrains, you will find that your glutes, hamstrings and leg and hip muscles become considerably stronger.

      OverBoard Blog 11 Health Benefits of Hiking

      If increased strength is your goal, push yourselves a little more each time by either extending the length of your hike or trying out different types of terrains.


      4. Out of all the great benefits of hiking, one of the greatest is the positive effect it can have on your heart.

      According to research conducted by the CDC, walking for just an hour every day for 5 days a week can lead to the risk of strokes being reduced by as much as half.


      The aerobic element of walking strengthens your heart.

      Hiking is also said to lower risks associated with other types of heart diseases. The CDC research also showed that doing cardiovascular exercises such as hiking makes you half as likely to suffer from heart problems when compared to those who don’t do cardio.

      Yes, half!


      5. Worried about your blood pressure?

      At the risk of sounding like a broken record, take a hike. Yep, another one of the many health benefits of hiking is that it helps lower your blood pressure.

      The brisker, the better.


      6. Did you know that hiking can also help control and even prevent and reverse diabetes?

      Yep, if you go for a regular hike, you can lower your blood sugar levels.

      How, you ask?

      OverBoard Blog 11 Health Benefits of Hiking

      Well, since hiking works out your muscles, this moves glucose from your blood for energy. And it’s not just a steep uphill hike that does so.  In fact, if you hike downhill, this can be even more effective at improving your tolerance for glucose.


      7. Next up - there’s the impact hiking can have on your cholesterol levels.

      A regular hike reduces the risk of heart diseases as it can reduce cholesterol levels. 


      8. Another fitness goal you can nail with hiking is toning up.

      Not only can you lose weight while hiking, but you can also shape and tone your whole body if you do it consistently.

      OverBoard Blog 11 Health Benefits of Hiking

      Now, the harder the hike, the better shape you’ll find yourself in.

      Your lower body can completely change its shape if you’re regularly trekking and navigating your way through inclines and climbing over rocky terrains.

      If you do this while carrying your hiking gear, you’re even more likely to strengthen your body and increase your endurance.


      9. Many studies have been conducted to show that the more time you spend outdoors, the better your attention span.

      Now, this may have something to do with the time you spend unplugged from your phone, as well as the whole being outside thing of course.

      OverBoard Blog 11 Health Benefits of Hiking

      Further research from Stanford shows that trekking and hiking are great at getting your creative juices flowing.

      So if you’re feeling a little stuck creatively, take a quick walk outside.

      Hey, it’s worth a try, right?


      10. Unlike other forms of exercise, hiking can be a relatively social activity.

      In fact, it is generally a good idea to have a hiking buddy, especially if you’re planning a hike somewhere a little rocky or rural. 

      Make the most of the social element of hiking by planning your more long-distance treks with a friend or even a group.

      OverBoard Blog 11 Health Benefits of Hiking

      If you can’t convince any close friends to come (even with the many health benefits of hiking that you now know about), you can find others who enjoy hikes on apps such as Meetup.

      The more hiking buddies you have, the more incentivised you’ll be to go out when it’s a little cold and rainy out. And you’re more likely to be consistent and reap the many benefits of hiking.

      Oh, and in those types of weathers, don’t forget to take along a waterproof hiking bag to keep your valuables and belongings dry.

      OverBoard Blog 11 Health Benefits of Hiking

      11. Let’s face it: we’re constantly attached to our phones.

      In fact, we spend an average of 24 hours a week on them.

      Going hiking outdoors encourages you to unplug from your phone, and most hiking trails (fortunately) don’t have WiFi or even much signal.

      OverBoard Blog 11 Health Benefits of Hiking

      In an age where most of us are almost constantly ‘switched on’, this makes a refreshing change, to say the least.

      The mental benefits of hiking, therefore, include all the benefits of unplugging as well.

      If you do decide to take your phone with you (purely for navigational purposes of course), make sure you take a waterproof phone case to keep it dry.

      OverBoard Blog 11 Health Benefits of Hiking

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