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8 reasons why hiking is great exercise

Hiking is healthy not only for your body, but also your mind and spirit.

“When you’re dressed for success, hiking is a great total-body workout,” says Michael Bednarz, DPM, FACFAS, a podiatric surgeon at Piedmont. “It strengthens the large muscles in your body, while stimulating the feel-good chemical hormones of adrenaline and endorphins that boost your mood and energy levels.”

Why hiking is awesome for your entire body

  1. Going up and down hills gets the heart pumping, creating a great cardio workout.
  2. Like most cardio exercises, hiking helps reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even some cancers.
  3. Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise, which builds muscle mass and helps prevent osteoporosis.
  4. Hiking can help you manage your weight.
  5. It is a joint-friendly form of exercise that can keep arthritis sufferers more limber and mobile.
  6. Being outside in the sunshine provides the body with vitamin D.
  7. For those with type 2 diabetes, hiking can possibly reduce, or even eliminate, your need for insulin. Talk with your doctor about how exercise may reduce your need for medication.
  8. Hiking offers psychological benefits, often contributing to a feeling of relaxation and enhanced well-being. 

“If you have any type of hypertension or heart disease, be sure to consult your doctor before hiking,” says Dr. Bednarz. “Even if you are healthy, climbing vertically can be a whole new ballgame. You use very different muscles than you do on flat surfaces, so be sure to stretch and listen to your body’s limits.”

For additional healthy lifestyle ideas, visit Living Better’s Health & Wellness page.

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