Heading out into the great outdoors can be a cure for all kinds of problems, from losing weight, to helping with stress and anxiety. Not to mention all that clean fresh air you’ll be breathing in.
So what exactly are the health benefits of hiking?
- It helps you to lose weight - in a fun way! Hiking can help to burn those extra calories, and when you’re getting out of the house and taking in the breathtaking scenery, it won’t seem like such work.
- It’s good for mental health. We all work hard and can become stressed for many different reasons. Stress can cause headaches, fatigue and sleeping problems, but physical activity can help, as can lots of fresh air. Rambling offers the perfect excuse to get away from it all and have some time out to relax.
- It’s good for the heart. Because hiking is a powerful cardio workout it can help to lower your risk of heart disease and improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- It helps build those muscles. Hiking (especially uphill) can build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs. It can even help to strengthen your core and your bones too.
- Boost your mood. Being surrounded by nature can help improve your mental health. The great outdoors can reduce stress and anxiety, and can even help to lower the risk of depression.
Do I need to train before going hiking?
Hiking is enjoyable and exciting, but it can also be challenging and a tough workout if you don’t already exercise regularly. And some routes are definitely tougher than others. That’s why it’s important to train before you go on a hike, just like you would for a race or any sporting competition.
Heading out to a local park for a short training walk is a great way to get started. Increase your distance steadily, just like training for a marathon. It will also give you a chance to wear your boots in and try your backpack on for size.
What food and drink can help give me energy on my hike?
The food and drink we choose plays a huge part in helping us stay healthy, and it can affect how long we can hike for. You’re going to be using a lot of energy trekking across rocky paths, and climbing up and down hills, so here are some tips to help you stay fuelled and happy on your first hike:
- Eat breakfast: because it breaks the overnight fasting period, replenishes your supply of glucose and it will provide other essential nutrients to keep your energy up throughout your hike. Start with a meal that’s low in fat and fibre, high in carbs and ideally contains a good amount of protein, like granola, scrambled eggs and dried fruit.
- Drink plenty of water: and drink before you get thirsty, as this is an early sign of dehydration. Drink plenty of water about two hours before your hike so you start off nicely hydrated, and then aim to drink every 15 minutes or so, especially in hotter weather. Make sure you continue drinking water after your hike to fully re-hydrate.
- Eat little and often: and take plenty of fresh fruit and energy bars to snack on during your hike. Or try energy gels to give yourself a little extra boost.