Why Hiking Is the Perfect Mind-Body Workout

At first, walking and hiking may sound like two words for the same form of exercise. The footwear and scenery may vary, but the lower-body mechanics seem the same.

Surprisingly, though, they’re radically different. Research shows that your joints, heart and muscles perform in distinct ways during a hike compared to what they do during a jaunt around the block.

Like a pendulum, walking on flat terrain allows you to keep moving with little effort. “But when you walk on uneven terrain”—the type you’d encounter on nature trails, deep-sand beaches or other natural surfaces—“that knocks out a lot of that energy transfer,” the researcher says. “Your heart rate and metabolic rate go up, and you burn more calories.”

In fact, hiking on uneven terrain increases the amount of energy your body uses by 28% compared to walking on flat ground. The varying ground slopes you encounter while hiking also make it different from flat-ground walking. Paths that go up, down and sideways require subtle shifts in the way your leg muscles lengthen or shorten while performing work, and those shifts increase the amount of energy you’re expending during your trek.

But the benefits of hiking extend well beyond the extra calorie burn.

Learn more here…

 

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