We all want to put our healthiest foot forward and make the best food and exercise choices for ourselves and our children. The path to well-being starts at home, so it’s crucial that we practice what we preach when it comes to our kiddos.
Hiking is an easy and beneficial way to boost your overall health. Besides hiking, biking, swimming, and other forms of outdoor physical exercise can be something you do weekly or monthly. These activities can support physical health and your mind and soul.
Today we want to go over nine health benefits of hiking for your whole body and how you can get the most out of your experience. We also want to make sure you’re fully prepared for your first hike, so we will go over proper attire for the whole family. Finally, we will give you a few tips and tricks to keep the bugs away so bad memories don’t follow you home from the mountains.
Hiking is all about joy, but it’s also about preparation. “It’s not the journey; it’s the destination” never rang more true.
Why You Should Hike
While these aren’t the only reasons you should hike, these nine reasons are more than enough to at least give you the push you need to get the family on board.
Trying new pastimes or getting back into old ones isn’t always easy. But especially as parents, we know our kids will fight us on a lot of suggestions purely in the name of rebellion.
If you find yourself struggling to give the family enough of a reason why you all could use a little more outdoor time, we’ve got you covered.
Positive Mental Health Benefits
Hiking helps your body work off physical stress, but did you know it also works out your brain to boost your mental health?
Exercise, in general, can notably improve your overall mental wellness, and hiking is one of the most recommended forms. It boosts self-esteem, strengthens your problem-solving skills, and gets you that brain-healthy vitamin D.
Hiking helps you overcome obstacles and literal roadblocks in your way. The uneven terrain of a wild, natural environment has its perks. As each one of your trekking poles boosts you over the mountain, your prefrontal cortex gets a nice little boost too.
When you are physically able to do these things, it helps you realize that you’re able to get over those mental hurdles as well.
Good for Heart Health
Just like your body and brain need a workout, your heart does as well. Hiking gets the blood pumping, and your heart rate elevates. This rapid heartbeat is like lifting weights for your most vital asset.
The heart is a muscle, and just like other muscle groups in the body, it won’t work well if it isn’t kept in shape. Hiking is strenuous, but you can go at your own speed. So you’ll be able to elevate your heart rate and keep it consistent for a long period of time.
Hiking helps work out your cardiovascular system and, in turn, could possibly decrease your risk of heart disease.
Build Leg Muscle
It may hurt for a day or two afterward, but the soreness in your calves after weight-bearing exercise like backpacking is a burn you’ll be happy about. Hiking requires a lot of work and power from your legs, and keeping your legs strong and muscular benefits you every day. The diverse terrain helps strengthen everything from your quads to your hamstrings to your glutes.
We have to walk and run after our kids all the time; this isn’t as easy with weak leg muscles. Even if it hurts for a week afterward, that dull ache is a good sign that your legs got the workout they needed to keep on track.
Positive Effects on Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you know that proper exercise and diet are vital to maintaining your health. Walking is the top recommended form of exercise.
Hiking is just walking, with a little more muscle building involved. Your body needs that workout to keep strong, and you can slow your pace to manage symptoms.
Be sure to store your insulin and food properly to ensure that nothing spoils on a summer or winter day and that you’re prepared for insulin drops or spikes throughout your hike.
Lower Blood Pressure
Hiking is often low impact but yields high results for your mind and body. To manage high blood pressure and successfully lower it, you’ll need a proper amount of physical activity.
Walking is good for you, but the added strain that hiking brings is enough to keep you comfortable and maintain a steady pace while also working out your body a little harder. This extra push helps lower your cholesterol and lower blood pressure in the process.
Great For Family Bonding
We are always looking for more excuses to spend time with our kids, and hiking is a fun activity the whole family can enjoy. It’ll give everyone time to decompress and mentally manage anything stressful going on.
You’ll also have the added benefit of zero distractions from friends and social media for the duration of the hike, which gives your kids a chance to connect with you more. Spending time with our little ones isn’t always easy when they get bigger; hiking is an activity that teens enjoy and will be open to.
You can ask questions that your kids might be too afraid to answer or too distracted to answer usually, and now they can speak more openly without the outside world listening in.
If you’re looking for hiking friends, there are a ton of social media fan clubs out there that you can join. You’ll meet new people in your area and make lasting bonds.
Positive Effect on Bone Density
Just like your muscles, brain and heart included, get a serious workout from hiking, and so do your bones. We need to keep our bones strong because as we age, we naturally lose bone density.
Hiking is enough physical strain that our bodies, all the way down to our bones, are affected.
Remember those literal roadblocks we talked about earlier? Well, by aiding in a more positive mental outlook, they also helped change our daily attitudes. Working out causes your body to make and release endorphins into your body.
As we all know from Legally Blonde, endorphins make you happy.
When we are able to accomplish challenging trails or purely just breathe in the fresh air, our mindsets become clearer and simultaneously more positive. The physical benefits of hiking would be enough, but knowing that we can go trekking a trail and come out happier because of it is icing on the cake.
New and Exciting Experiences Are Coming Your Way
As humans, it is natural to have a desire to explore and learn. Children are exceptionally susceptible to this urge, and it's very important that we encourage this curiosity.
As you can see with other friends who are avid hikers, trails get more challenging the more experience you have. The desire to try something new builds higher and higher internally, and you become more and more courageous.
Not only does this foster positivity for your body and mind, but you’ll experience so many beautiful places and things along the way. With so many national parks to hit, you and your kids will be busy for years, checking them all off the list.
Wearing the Right Gear
So you know why you need to hike, but now you need to know how to hike. We are talking about the gear.
For starters, you need the right hiking boots. These can range from heavy-duty boots to sneaker-style boots, depending on which company you purchase from. Heavy branches and sharp rocks are abundant on hikes, and you need the proper shoes to keep them from piercing through the soles.
Next is your clothing. You’ll need to wear high socks to keep ticks from getting to your exposed ankles and long sleeves to protect your arms from bugs and bites. Keep in mind that Spandex material is easily penetrated by bugs and might not keep you safe from incoming air-borne bites.
Instead, wear clothing made from windbreaker material or even denim to keep you bite-free.
You’ll also want to plan for sustenance. Water is key to keeping you hydrated on a hike, no matter the temperature. Small items easy to pack like nuts, dried fruits, and beef jerky are perfect hiking foods. They’re small and fit in little bags and are loaded full of the right fats and nutrition to keep you going all day and keep you full.
Keeping Bugs Away
The right clothing is the first line of defense against bug bites, but it’s not enough on its own. For your next hike, stick a few BuzzPatches on your clothing to keep you camouflaged.
Our patches feature fun and cute designs and are full of enough all-natural essential oils to keep you protected for up to eight hours at a time. This means you’ll have fun and won’t have to worry about coming home itching and covered in red bumps.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Now that you have all the information presented here, you’re definitely ready to tell your family what your plans are this weekend.
We are confident that one hike and you’ll all be hooked!