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Trainer Tips: Hiking is a Mind-Body Workout

April 26, 2021

Karen Sullivan trainer 

 

There is no denying that the outdoors is truly amazing! Our planet and especially our beautiful city of St. Peters is the reason why so many people choose to hike. While most hikers do it simply to enjoy nature, there are actually a lot of health benefits that come from hiking, both mental and physical. Here a few reasons why you should hike for a body/mind workout.

 

Benefits of Hiking  

 

  • Hiking burns more calories and builds strength in your legs than just walking. Hiking tends to use 28% more energy in your body than a stroll through the neighborhood because the varying terrain and elevation require your body to adapt to the situation. Your leg muscles lengthen or shorten while they work on uneven ground, which increases the amount of energy you use. This means you burn more calories hiking than walking on flat ground or sidewalk at a steady pace. 
  • It’s good for your heart and overall endurance. Like any good cardio workout, your heart rate goes up during a hike. This means hiking can help you develop a strong cardiovascular system. Hiking also improves your endurance, especially when hiking at higher elevations where your body adapts to using less oxygen.
  • You boost your mood. Hiking has a positive impact on your mental health by getting you away from the hustle and bustle of normal life and putting you in the great outdoors. Spending time in the calm of nature has direct correlations to better energy, positive feelings, and less tension, anger, and depression. Plus, it allows you to reconnect with the amazing world we call home.

 

Tips for Starting 

If you haven’t considered hiking before, here are a few simple tips to get you started on the trail.

 

  • Start slow. Go to a local trail that’s shorter and has little elevation gain. Then gradually work your way up to tougher and steeper trails.
  • Get familiar with the trail. There are several paved trails in St. Peters. You can find details on the City's Park Trails page.
  • Don’t forget to bring water. This is the most important thing you can take with you on your hike!
  • Weigh yourself down. Bring a backpack full of water, snacks, a jacket, and other hiking essentials. The extra weight will boost your calorie burn and strengthen your muscles.
  • Bring a friend. While it’s generally safer to hike with another person (especially if you’re unfamiliar with the trail), having someone for accountability and conversation is great too. Invite some friends and make it a hangout.

 

Get out there, blaze trails, and burn calories!