Just turn on the television news or pick up a newspaper and you will be treated to some very frightening statistics. 2/3 of Americans are now considered to be overweight. This means that obesity, has now reach epidemic proportions. What’s even scarier is the fact that most of our children are overweight as well, this means that obesity is not on the decline but rather increasing in our society. But the news isn’t all frightening. There are so many things that you can do to protect yourself and your family from this dangerous problem. The best way of course is through diet and exercise. And what better exercise is there than walking?
But I’m not just talking about regular walking. While heading out to the street for even half an hour a day three times a week has been shown to improve health and increase weight loss, there is so much more you can do. Why not try hiking? This more challenging form of our most basic movement, involves walking over rough and uneven terrain while surrounded by the beauty of nature. Sound good? Then keep reading.
Hiking is one of the easiest sports out there and requires the least equipment. Toss on a sturdy pair of sneakers (though hiking boots are recommended and not terribly expensive) and you are ready to head out onto the trails. You can find trails starting at beginner levels and lengths and those that are considered difficult and are much longer. For example, a beginning trail will most likely be fairly flat and even and may only last about one to two miles. As you get work up to the more challenging trails, you will be walking up more of an angle and there will be more rocks and uneven land. These will also be longer, somewhere in the ballpark of three to six miles. Once you reach the difficult trails, you may be facing a seven mile or more hike. The ground will be extremely uneven and you may need to climb over large boulders and possibly even do a small amount of rock climbing to reach your final destination.
The health benefits to hiking are endless. You will lose weight quickly as this is considered an aerobic exercise and you will burn fat as you move. When you start hitting uneven terrain, you will need to work your leg and core muscles to keep you balanced and when rock climbing is involved, your arms will join the party. It is truly a full body workout. If you have children, why not take them along? This will help instill in them, a love of exercise, staying fit and healthy and communing with nature. By immersing ourselves in a natural environment, we can also lower stress levels and gain mental and emotional benefits way beyond the physical.
With everything you now know about hiking, is there any reason not to? The simple answer… nope. So grab your shoes, some friends or family members (and a camera because the sights will be beautiful) and head out on the trail. You won’t regret it.