Hitting the gym every day is a good way to keep up your fitness levels, but doesn’t it get boring sometimes?
That makes us turn to a cooler workout option – hiking. Although your workout routine depends on your goals (whether you want to tone muscles or become flexible), hiking outscores the gym in several factors.
Here are 9 reasons why hiking is better than going to the gym.
1. Interval Training
Interval training is proven to be one of the most effective forms of cardio because it burns more calories in less time.
To put it simply, interval training involves alternating short periods of intense activity with longer periods of rest. As you hike with occasional resting breaks, it serves as interval training and improves your fitness.
This type of workout routine is beneficial even for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. Like every other form of cardio, this is good for your heart and helps in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
2. Low Impact
HIIT is all the craze these days, but low-impact workouts take the cake when it comes to keeping you fit without putting strain on your joints. This includes hips, knees, and ankles.
Therefore, active seniors whose muscles and joints shouldn’t be stressed can try hiking to stay in shape.
In HIIT, your joints should have good mobility to avoid injuries. But low-impact exercises hardly have risks like musculoskeletal injuries. If your feet have never been trained before or you have conditions like arthritis, starting with low impact activities like hiking would be great.
3. Vitamin D
Along with regular exercise, your bones need vitamin D to stay healthy. Osteomalacia is a bone disease in adults caused mainly due to vitamin D deficiency. It results in softening of the bones that makes them prone to breakage. Children who don’t get adequate vitamin D may develop a similar disease called rickets.
Apart from bone health, vitamin D plays a crucial role in the efficiency of your immune system.
Vitamin D is commonly referred to as the sunshine vitamin because there’s no better source for it than sunlight. Now, you know why day hikes are the best.
4. Strong Legs
When you’re hiking, you move your legs in a variety of ways unlike repeating the same movement as on an elliptical or a treadmill.
This works up almost all muscles in your legs. Notice how it doesn’t focus only on the ‘major’ muscles?
With hiking, you’d build stronger legs and your movements will get better. As the body weight falls on the legs, making them strong will ensure you have a good posture while standing.
Also, strong legs are aesthetic and can boost your confidence to the next level.
A good pair of hiking pants will keep your legs comfortable throughout your journey. You can find out the best ones in this article.
5. Mentally Soothing
With time, going to the gym can feel like you’re back to school again. Monotonous!
Research shows that when we start to feel working out is a chore, it adds to our existing stress and makes us look for compensation.
Sadly, in such cases, people consider eating more junk food as compensation for working out in the morning. Fitness remains a dream forever.
Hiking falls more in the ‘fun activities’ spectrum and it does soothe your mind. Thanks to Mama Nature, you’ll come back more energized and less stressed after hiking.
6. No Breathlessness
In the beginning, you may hustle to catch a breath while hiking uphill. But after the first few hikes, you’ll find yourself getting adapted to it more easily than on a treadmill.
The woods are the perfect place to breathe some fresh air. It can work like a charm on your lungs and you’ll soon notice an improvement in their capacity.
Hiking also strengthens your core muscles. Along with improving your posture, it promotes lung health too.
Hiking is non-competitive. So, listen to your body and take breaks whenever necessary. Don’t push it beyond its limits in the name of exercising.
7. Good For Your Brain
Exercises like hiking increase the production of abrineurin. The fact that physical activity improves blood flow collides with abrineurin production to improve your brain’s overall well-being.
Abrineurin is a protein encoded by the BDNF gene and is important for cognitive functions and long-term memory. Sufficient levels of abrineurin can reduce depression and anxiety.
A study showed that those walking in traffic or indoors receive fewer benefits than those walking in the woods. This means, when hiking, we don’t miss out on any benefits of physical exercise.
8. Suitable For All Goals
If you’re just setting your foot in the world of fitness, hiking can help you build endurance and prepare you for high-intensity workouts. It’s easy and stress-free.
If you’re a fitness freak with a consistent workout regimen, your muscles need to relieve the lactic acid buildup. Instead of taking a break by staying home, you can take a walk in the woods. By doing this, your muscles will get toned without hitting the ‘tearing’ point.
For those in HIIT, a break like this is recommended once every 6 weeks for muscle recovery.
Though hiking demands some good quality gear, it is a one-time investment that lasts for years (if you use it right). Gym memberships are quite costly and for every single day you skip, it makes you feel guilty about the money you paid.
As a hiker, you’re on your own.
You could be a passionate hiker who saves money to go to the Appalachian Trail.
Or you just want to hike a trail in the nearby park ’cause the budget is short.
These two are of varying difficulties, but both are more beneficial than sitting in front of the TV, as all the points we’ve discussed so far apply to them.
If we look from the other perspective, a gym can seem better than hiking. It’s all about balancing well according to your body.
Res Marty is a 26-year-old currently living in Lucerne, Switzerland. Apart from traveling around the world, he loves hiking and camping. He aims to simplify these outdoor activities for everyone through his self-titled blog. He firmly believes in integrity and honesty which is evident in his reviews.