As the ground is finally unthawing and the leaves are starting to grow, it's time to start getting outdoors again! Spring is finally (FINALLY) here and what better way to celebrate than to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air while working out? One of my favorite outdoor activities is hiking. It's a really great form of exercise and can also be good for your mental health. Hiking has similar health benefits as walking, such as a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, plus it's a weight-bearing exercise so it increases bone density. Hiking is also a good exercise for building muscle. The steeper the terrain is, the harder your hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus, and lower leg muscles are working. Hiking improves balance and strengthens your core as well.
Before you run out into the woods, there's a few safety tips to know. First off, if you are a beginner hiker start small. Try looking for a short, local hike in an area you are familiar with. You should also have a hiking partner. Eventually you can hike by yourself, but just starting out it's better to have a friend there just in case you get lost or injured. Make sure to bring water along on your hike and dress appropriately. Stick to the marked trail and don't wander off course.
If you are already a pro hiker, here's a few tips to increase your health benefits. To increase your cardio workout, look for hills. It's like walking on an incline on a treadmill except so much better because you are outside and enjoying nature! Also try using poles. You might not think you need them but they actually cause your upper body muscles to work harder by pushing them into the ground. To strength your lower back muscles, try adding more weight to your backpack. A 10 to 15lb bag will do the trick.
To find a trail near you, try looking on Scout Me. They have tons of places all around the area and even show a map of all locations.
Hike your way to better health! Learn the benefits and a few tips!
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