THE SCIENCE OF HIKING: Why Hiking Maybe Good for your health

Smarthikr-the science of hiking

The Science of Hiking

From a general point of view, the science of hiking simply means the working principles of walking.

So, technically, another name for walking is hiking. Only that hiking has a little to twist to itself i.e walking a long distance with the purpose of deriving pleasure from beautiful and mesmerizing scenes of mother nature.

Hiking typically involves the use of both legs for movement (you probably already know this) over a long distance.

The mechanics are that, when one of your legs moves forward, the second one remains on the ground to support your upper body (a popular term called double support).

This you can easily observe when walking.

Hint: We can measure the distance walked while on a hike using a tool called PEDOMETER.

On a broader note, hiking typically involves the use of the muscular system of our body.

And from what we can tell or from what science has told us, we have the abdominal muscles (muscles in the front of your abdomen), and spinal erectors (three vertically long muscles at our back. 

From the word spine, quadriceps (the group of four muscles on the front of your leg) and gluteal (muscles that make up our buttocks) as our major muscular groups. Pretty intense right?

While I may not necessarily explain everything the way an encyclopedia does, I will try my possible best to unveil the nitty-gritty of everything.

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What Muscles Does Hiking Work?

Like I said above, the muscles involve our four major muscular groups. Abdominal muscles, spinal erectors, quadriceps, and gluteal muscles.

There are two things actually needed for a successful hike (including the ten essential systems).

  • Strength  and
  • Aerobic respiration

Both are essential for hiking endurance. And both are successfully achievable via the muscles.

When hiking, we easily get fatigued. This is a result of continuous contraction (muscles become shorter and tighter) and relaxation (muscles become free) of our muscles.

There are actually two main reasons why our muscles easily get fatigued.

  • The continuous shrinking of muscles damages muscle cells. The muscle cells are responsible for efficient contraction.
  • Lack of sufficient energy supplied to the muscles

To actually curb both, we will need to engage in serious strength training workouts before hiking a trail, and also, we must learn to allow blood flow and oxygen to our working muscles.

We can do this easily by running and cycling for a long period of time.

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Physical Benefits of Hiking

physical benefits of hiking: Science of hiking

While hiking might sound fun, if there are no benefits to it, it becomes nothing. Nobody will do something that offers no benefit.

Hiking has lots of physical benefits. I can only mention a few important ones.

  • Its Allows You To Control Your Weight

Hiking fine tones your body in every way. According to collective evolution, you can lose up to 400 – 700 calories per hour, depending on your size and hike difficulty.

  • It Increases Confidence

As we already know, every thru-hiker, are people who have endurance. Endurance means there is no anxiety right? Confidence also means no anxiety. Therefore, confidence springs up and is established when you continually endure your hiking trials.

  • It Increases Stamina And Energy

Because of the continuous contraction and relaxation of your muscles during a hike, your muscles become resilient and you start maintaining a weighty balance. On the other hand, you increase in energy from the increase in storage of glucose as glycogen in your body and vice-versa.

Knee braces can be used as support when and if you discover that your knee needs support.

  • It’s Better Than Running

It’s been proven that hiking is easier on the joints than running. And that hiking reduces the risk of heart disease more effectively than running when the energy expenditure of both activities is balanced out.

  • It Helps Build Long-Term Friendship

The hiking community is a large one. It encourages you and me to take hiking as a lifestyle. Other than that, we are likely going to keep relationships with individuals or groups that make us accountable for our fitness.

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Psychological Benefits of Hiking

psychological benefits of hiking: science of hiking

Well, it isn’t surprising learning what hiking can do right? Hear this, hiking does a lot of good to the brain just like any other exercise out there. And all of these benefits have been scientifically researched. It would be best if we have these in mind while hiking a trail.

  • Hiking Heals The Brain

In this human era that we are both in, so many things fight to gain our attention. Those of us in cities can actually testify to this.

We have lots of emails to read, calls to return and answer friends to visit and are visiting, and lots more. All of this is mentally demanding.

In his book, Stephen Kaplan after 20 years of studying the relationship between man and its natural environment, he concluded by saying that natural settings foster tranquility and wellbeing.

  • Hiking Can Stop Obsessive and Negative Thoughts

Many of us always find ourselves consumed with negative thoughts. The good news is; that hiking has been proven to be able to curb this menace.

According to a study by the School of Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK, researchers in environmental psychology and other fields designed a device called mobile electroencephalography to record and analyze emotional experience.

Guess what?

The analysis showed a low rate of frustration and a higher rate of meditation for people moving into a green space zone.

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  • Hiking Makes You More Creative

Looking back at the past 50 years, you will notice how creative the human species are. It proves our ingenuity.

But a recent study shows that technology and urban noise might rob us of that creative power by disrupting our focus.

And that the best way to remain actively creative is to be in a natural setting. The study made us understand that 8 hiking groups were actually used to perform this test.

  • Hiking Can Treat Depression

Depression is a killer. I wish it doesn’t happen to any of us here. It can literarily turn any hyperactive person into a downer instantly.

But here, a study shows that hiking which is a form of physical exercise can actually lessen its effect as if it is treated with medication.

The exercise was a 16-week study of 202 adults diagnosed with major depression. After 4 months of treatment, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences concluded that the efficacy of exercise in patients seems generally comparable with patients receiving antidepressant medication.

  • Hiking Boost Brainpower

The bane of every intelligent creature lies in the brain. The brain does a lot of things every now and then. And these functions according to scientists cannot be carried out by any supercomputer yet.

But researchers from the University of British Columbia are saying that there is a way to boost this brain. That aerobic respiration which can also come from hiking can reduce and even prevent memory loss in us and older women.

Wrapping It Up

From what we see above, it is pretty obvious that hiking has lots to offer (you already know).

For you to see any of those benefits in you, you have to go out there.

Please do the following;

#1: Let me know about your questions in the comment box if not satisfied yet.

#2: Add more tips in the comment box. I will be glad to have them.

#3: Share with your friends if the article was informative.


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