Hiking: The Ultimate Healer
September 28, 2015
For that reason, we’ve incorporated hiking into many of our retreats, such as our Journey to the Center retreat this upcoming November in Peru. Any excuse to hike Machu Picchu.
via Huffington Post:
Here’s what hikers can teach the rest of us about leading a happier, healthier life.
Hikers are creative.
Forget the caffeine. Those looking for a brainpower boost need not look further than the closest trail. Research shows that spending time outdoors increases attention spans and creative problem-solving skills by as much as 50 percent. The authors of the study also point out that the results may have as much to do with unplugging from technology as they do spending time outside. “This is a way of showing that interacting with nature has real, measurable benefits to creative problem-solving,” David Strayer, co-author of the study, tells the Wilderness Society.
Plus, it’s not only the lack of technology and surplus of trees, sunshine and fresh air that contribute to this creativity boost in trail blazers. Researchers from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education found that walking gets the creative juices flowing far more than sitting.
Hikers are seriously fit.
Hitting the trail works out your body as much as it does your brain. Just one hour of trekking can burn well over 500 calories, depending on the level of incline and the weight of the pack you’re carrying. Hiking is a great way to get a serious workout without putting too much pressure on your joints. “Trails are often softer on joints than asphalt or concrete,” Caroline Stedman, a seasonal Park Ranger at northern Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, tells The Huffington Post. “So I find myself feeling less stiff and creaky after a hike than a jog down a sidewalk.”
If you head for the hills, weight loss results are even better. Not only are you burning some serious calories, but altitude itself has also proven a weight loss ally.
Plus, tramping through the trails on a regular basis decreases blood pressure and cholesterol. Logging cardio in the form of hiking can lower blood pressure by four to 10 points, and reduce the danger of heart disease, diabetes and strokes for those at high-risk. And don’t lose heart if you’re not out of breath on the way back. Both the ups and downs have benefits when it comes to lowering cholesterol, but hiking downhill is two times more effective at removing blood sugars and improving glucose tolerance.
Some research suggests that the physical benefits of hiking extend far beyond cardiovascular health, and may even go as far as to help cancer patients recover. In a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine researchers measured oxidative stress (thought to play a role in the onset, progression and recurrence of cancer) rates of women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer before and after hiking. The study found that long distance hiking trips may improve the antioxidative capacity, which helps fight off disease, in the blood of oncological patients. Another study showed that breast cancer survivors who exercised regularly — many in the form of hiking — believed that physical activity complemented their recovery from cancer treatment.