In our first article of our Baby Boomer Travel series, we talked about the allure of Senior Tours and how you are never too old for an adventure. In today’s post, to prove our point, we thought we would share with you the 15 Health Benefits of Hiking you can experience in your golden years.
The Health Benefits of Hiking and Baby Boomer Travel
Baby Boomers are not slowing down as they enter their Golden Years. In fact, they’re impelled to continue to maintain their active lifestyle. Accordingly, they’ve embraced exercise and wellness to sustain a high quality of life as they age.
As baby boomers enter retirement, they have free time on their hands. And hiking and other adventure-oriented activities, combined with health-oriented goals, go hand in hand with Baby Boomer Travel.
People who hike on a regular basis enjoy better overall health, considerably less stress and are more energetic. Enjoy these 15 benefits of hiking today and reap the rewards!
Benefit 1 – Improve Your Overall Health and Be Fit
When you continue a regular hiking program you’ll not only feel great when you hit the trail but you’ll enjoy peak fitness. The better your condition, the more you’ll enjoy the hiking experience. Whether you’ve considered dabbling in the world of hiking or if you’re an avid hiker, you can appreciate the health benefits of hiking.
Benefit 2: Decrease Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Recent studies show that walking for an hour a day can cut a person’s risk of stroke by 50%. Walking conditions the heart and will increase longevity. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, including hiking, is safe for most people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/
Consistent aerobic exercise helps increase your HDL levels, the good cholesterol, and lowers your triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels. Subsequently, your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure is reduced. Take a hike to help keep your cardiovascular system healthy!
Benefit 3 – Be Happy
Hikers are happier. A walk through a magnificent landscape not only calms you but improves your spirits and can help people with severe depression. Being in the grandeur of nature, free from the pressures of life and technology is very effective at reducing stress
Benefit 4 – Prevent Diabetes
Health benefits of hiking include a decreased risk of diabetes. Hiking works your muscles, which transfers glucose from your bloodstream for energy. But if you already have diabetes, we recommend you talk to your doctor first. He or she may need to adjust your diabetes medications.
Benefit 5 – Increase Your Energy Level
Aerobic activities such as hiking provide oxygen to your muscles and other body tissues. This extra fuel helps boost your muscles and lungs and increases your alertness, and energy and endurance levels too.
Benefit 6 – Weight Loss
One of the many health benefits of hiking consistently include weight management. It is one of the best methods to burn calories and lose unwanted pounds. By following a steady and enjoyable hiking program, you will keep your weight under control.
Studies have shown that hiking can burn more than 400 calories an hour. It is best to start slowly and work your hiking duration up to 45 minutes daily at a pace of 2.5 miles an hour.
Benefit 7 – Increase Your Bone Density
Strong bones are essential to your overall health. Hiking consistently will reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis and arthritis. If you have arthritis, studies have shown that two and a half hours of hiking per week will maintain flexibility in your joints and decrease joint stiffness.
Benefit 8 – Lower Your Cancer Risk
A huge benefit of hiking or regular exercise is that it will lower your cancer risk. Hiking can help prevent and fight certain cancers such as breast, colon, lung and other forms of cancer. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/canjclin.54.4.190/full
Benefit 9 – Back Pain Relief
Sitting in front of a computer too long can cause back pain. People who walk regularly report significant decreases in back pain. Walking puts much less stress on your body than running or aerobics and helps build core body strength.
Benefit 10 – Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D
Where to get vitamin D? Increase your vitamin D by taking a hike of course! Vitamin D is a critical nutrient needed to keep your muscles and bones strong and to promote overall good health. Although some vitamin D is available in foods, one of the best sources is the sun. Don’t indulge in too much unprotected sun exposure but get out there and take a hike for better health!
Benefit 11 – Hiking is good for your brain
According to many studies, hiking outdoors is great for your brain. In a recent experiment, a group of middle-aged people were asked to take three 45 walks a week for a year. At the end of this time span, MRI scans verified that their hippocampus grew an average of 2 percent! Typically, as people age, their hippocampus becomes smaller, leading to memory loss.
Preventing such shrinkage could improve a person’s memory for years. Plus, there have been other recent reports regarding how being in the outdoors reaps huge benefits. Other conditions alleviated include stress, depression, anger and aggressiveness. In fact, our mental health in general is significantly improved by being in a natural environment. So what are we waiting for?
Benefit 12 – Expand Your Mind, Visit New Places
Hiking is a great excuse for traveling to new places, great for creating excitement, avoiding boredom and opening new synopsis’ in the brain. Instead of planning an ordinary vacation, take a hike! Adventure trips can encompass snow-capped mountains, spectacular canyons, fascinating deserts and verdant forests in far off lands as well as close to home. There is something for everyone in our wilderness lands. Our national parks and wilderness areas offer a multitude of trails across millions of acres of public land.
Benefit 13 – Tones Your Muscles
Since hiking can include steep inclines, it is perfect for challenging your body and for toning your muscles. With brisk movements and a steady pace, you can get a full body workout. Remember to stretch before and after a vigorous hike, so that your hamstrings, glutes and quads are toned. The vigorous stretching of yoga can be very beneficial for hikers.
Benefit 14 – Hiking Slows Aging
Hiking is not only fun, it helps slow aging. In addition to bringing clarity to the mind and vibrancy to the soul, hiking will help reduce mortality risk.
Research indicates that what was once accepted as a foregone conclusion that aging will lessen your physical and mental capabilities is not true. An article in the American Journal of Public Heath conducted a study regarding mortality risk and moderate exercise such as hiking. They tested two groups of middle-aged men, one active and one sedentary. During a 23-year time period, their conclusion is that the inactive group lost forty-one percent of their aerobic ability while the exercisers lost only thirteen percent.
The takeaway here is that aging doesn’t diminish our ability to be healthy and active. But leading a sedentary lifestyle will. Yet another excuse to hit the trails!
Benefit 15- Develop Healthy Lifetime Habits
Another compelling reason for baby boomers to hike is a much-improved quality of life. Each time you hike, breathe the outside air, exert and challenge yourself but stay within your capabilities, you will come away feeling better than you did. Your body and mind will feel healthier and your stress level will drop off. Because of this great feeling, you’ll want to hike again. The sport may even become addictive.
Wrapping it All Up
We have made the case that hiking is one of the best forms of exercise and spiritual renewal. We’ve also shown how a steady hiking program will not only get you in awesome shape but it can provide many ways to stay healthy and avoid illness. The physical health benefits of hiking are enormous. So get started on your hiking plan today and kick start your journey to longevity!
Here’s to your health. Happy Trails!
Next up in our Baby Boomer Travel Series: Multigenerational Vacations
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