During winter most of us like to sit under a warm blanket with a cup of coffee. While this may be soothing for the soul, getting off the couch is better for your health.
Going on regular hikes can improve your overall health in many ways. We have done some research and found ten reasons to ditch the blanket and put on your hiking shoes.
1. Decreases blood pressure
Worldwide, high blood pressure (hypertension) is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths each year.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), getting some exercise, such as hiking, can make a big difference in the fight against this condition. Physical activity makes your heart stronger and a stronger heart pumps more blood with less effort. This decreases the pressure on your arteries, leading to lower blood pressure.
2. Relieves pain naturally
Are you struggling with back pain, or suffering from chronic neck pain? A hike might be just the medicine you are looking for. Hiking releases endorphins that act as an analgesic, resulting in a diminished perception of pain. The endorphins are manufactured in the brain and spinal cord and also act as a sedative. They bind to the same neuron receptors as pain medication and can therefore relieve chronic pain.
3. Makes you happy
Regular hiking releases feel-good brain chemicals, such as serotonin, that lift our mood and lower our chances of developing a mood disorder such as depression. Because social support is often an integral part of treatment for depression, joining a hiking group might be an added benefit.
4. Improves memory
It has been well documented that physical activity such as hiking can improve cognitive function. Hiking reduces insulin resistance and inflammation – two factors which experts believe play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Taking a nice walk in nature can also improve the overall health of brain cells, as well as encourage the growth of new blood vessels in the brain. All of this can help you maintain a healthy memory.