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The Health Benefits of Hiking

Photo of the GGC Hiking Club

Garden of the Gods Club’s Hiking Club participants enjoy a local trail.

For many Coloradoans, hiking is a part of life. In addition to being an economical form of exercise, hiking also carries many health benefits. You don’t have to be an expert hiker to reap the benefits of the exercise. No matter what your hiking experience level may be, there is no doubt that being outdoors is good for your mind, body, and soul. Read on for some of the health benefits of hiking according to our own Lauralee Beerman, sports club manager at Garden of the Gods Club.

1. Hiking helps prevent heart disease. “Hiking decreases triglyceride levels and increases HDL [good cholesterol], which can reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes,” Lauralee explained.

2. Hiking eats up extra calories. “Hiking is a great form of weight control, as it burns calories; you can burn 300 to 500 calories per hour,” Lauralee said.

3. Hiking can make your bones stronger. Going on regular hikes can help develop strong bones and slow down bone loss. In her Livestrong article “Ten reasons why hiking is good for you,” Kathryn Meininger writes that “the CDC encourages those who have arthritis to hike for 150 minutes per week because it keeps the joints flexible and also helps prevent joint stiffness affiliated with osteoporosis.”

4. Hiking promotes holistic wellness. According to a 10-year study on green exercise conducted by Dr. Jo Barton and colleagues from the University of Essex, exercising outdoors far exceeds indoor exercise when it comes to its effects on mood and self-esteem. The University of Essex’s Green Exercise Study found that outdoor activities, like hiking, minimized feelings of tension, anger and depression in three out of four participants and raised self-esteem levels in almost two-thirds of its participants. “Unlike an indoor exercise class, hiking allows you to connect with the beauty and smells of the outdoors and enables you to see new areas as well as meet new people,” Lauralee added.

5. Hiking helps stabilize blood sugar levels. In her article “Ten reasons why hiking is good for you,” Meininger also writes, “Regular hiking can help control, or even prevent, diabetes by lowering your blood sugar levels. Hiking exercises your muscles, which moves glucose from the bloodstream for energy.” So if you went a little overboard on dessert last night, not to worry! Lace up your hiking shoes and get out for some fresh air and gorgeous Colorado views!

6. Hiking helps you catch some “rays”. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium helps you maintain strong muscles and bones. Ten minutes of direct sunlight daily is all you need to maintain your vitamin D levels, so get out there and hike your way to better health!

Aside from the great health benefits, hiking is a wonderful outlet for meeting new people and connecting with nature. For more information on sports memberships at Garden of the Gods Club, which include access to personal training, group fitness classes, and hiking and biking clubs, please contact Director of Membership Tracey Kalata at 719.520.4980 or tkalata@ggclub.com.

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