To my mind, hiking is a vastly under-appreciated form of exercise. It has so much to offer and can be properly addictive! I’m focussing on this topic as a fun, alternative way to access cardio, courtesy of a recent hike along the Tizi ‘n M’zik Pass in the breathtaking and rugged Atlas Mountains on my recent blog trip to Morocco. Here are my 10 reasons why hiking is such a supreme form of physical and mental exercise! I’m also very excited to feature Striders Edge on the blog for the first time – an apparel brand whose ethos complements what I typically look for in fitness fashion – sport-specific functionality, chic-appeal and technical innovation. Click MORE to see the whole post…
At the outset, for whomever thinks hiking should just be called ‘walking’, that just isn’t the case! Thanks to the variation of terrain quality, the incline, the altitude, the weather conditions, the adaptability it calls for… hiking is far more physically challenging, burns 140% more calories (c.550 per hour for a 70kg individual who’s orienteering, vs c. 230 for the same individual walking at 3mph). As a fitness activity, it can lead to a host of physiological & social benefits as follows;
1) LOWER-BODY TONE: Beef up your legs & butt, whilst controlling your overall bodyweight, especially through an uphill gradient. Generally hiking is excellent for muscle tone, particularly the cross country variety, as the body and legs (even the core) have to compensate for rough terrain by working harder for stability.
2) BREATHE IT IN: Being an outdoorsy type, I personally love the fresh air, wind on my face, and variation of great scenery. Fresh, low-pollution air is invigorating and helps the lungs to regenerate, and the vitamin D you’ll soak up from the spring sunshine can’t be simulated through diet!
3) TEST ENDURANCE: It’ll bring out the best in you when the challenge tests your endurance and the drive to ‘plough on’ kicks in. My next challenge will be a high-altitude hike, whereby once you start climbing, the atmospheric composition changes, you feel it in your stomach, your legs grow weary, your bodyweight feels threefold its normal level, and you’re gasping for air; to me, that’s an endurance challenge-and-a-half!
4) BURN CALORIES: c.550 per hour for a 70kg individual who’s orienteering – you’ll consume masses of energy to fuel yourself, and that burn-rate keeps going after the hike too, especially if you’re heading uphill.
5) GROW HOT OR COLD: Hot weather amplifies calorie-burn by raising the body’s core temperature. Cold outside? Wrap up and sweat all the same!
6) GET COORDINATED: The random nature of the scattered terrain means you have to focus on each step, on your balance, on planning the optimal ‘route’, and you really engage the logical centre of the brain in tandem with the muscles to implement your strategy. It’s really quite stimulating!
7) SCALABLE: you can take it at your own pace, and adjust the difficulty to any level of fitness, so there should be nothing exclusive about this means of exercise.
8) CARDIO: Hiking is unquestionably a cardiovascular activity (obviously dependent upon how hard you push yourself); the benefits are as with any other form of cardio.
9) ACHIEVEMENT: You have a physical destination to reach, rather than a linear walk on the uphill treadmill. Once you get to the top of the mountain a sense of achievement, the spirit of primal conquerors!! And unlike the treadmill, you get to enjoy constantly changing scenery which is nowhere near as boring, and you can do it with a group of friends too, so it’s equally a social event!
10) STRONGER BONES: As hiking puts productive pressure on your bones, it encourages the development of a healthy bone structure, and contributes to the reduction of exposure to degenerative bone conditions, such as osteoporosis.
Here are my photos from my trek along the Tizi ‘n M’zik Pass;
What I was wearing:
ENGINEERED COMPRESSION BRA – FRESH YELLOW, by Striders Edge
NATURAL PERFORMANCE HOODY – SILVER GREY, by Striders Edge
CATALYST TIGHT – CRAG GREY, by Striders Edge
EC-MAP CROSS BACK – EMERALD BLUE, by Striders Edge
GEL-FUJITRABUCO 2 NEUTRAL G-TX, by Asics
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