Now that classes are finally over, students have much more time to step outside and enjoy the beauty of nature that spring and summer provide. Hiking is a fantastic, yet frequently overlooked form of exercise that provides a serious workout and stunning views of the great outdoors. There are countless trails in the United States with established difficulty ratings that vary from leisurely, to strenuous, and they can be researched online beforehand in order to map out the perfect route. Not only is hiking a great workout, it can also be incorporated into an inexpensive vacation, as many trailheads have campgrounds for hikers to use. Below are a few reasons to add hiking to your fitness routine this season.
Cardio and Strength Training
Hiking is viewed as glorified walking by some uninitiated, but in reality, it is much more than that. Most trails go over rocky and uneven terrain, typically at an incline for much of the route. Paths like this provide a unique and powerful combination of cardio and strength training, by increasing heart rate and working a ton of muscle groups. Every muscle in your legs is engaged at some point during hiking, and it can even be a core workout because some terrain requires balance in order to steady yourself on rocks and uneven ground. Luckily, not only is hiking a serious workout, it is also very fun, so you won’t necessarily notice just how hard you are working.
Beautiful Scenery and Wildlife Protection
Some of the best views can be seen while hiking, especially when hiking to the summit of mountains. At the base of mountains, greenery and vegetation is typically everywhere, enclosing the hiker in a lush wilderness. As the hike continues on, eventually the treeline, the altitude at which trees stop growing, will be reached, which gives the first glimpse of 360 degree views of surrounding areas. Mountain hikes typically end at the summit, where you are guaranteed to feel like you are on the top of the world, looking at the horizon and being able to see for miles and miles. Hiking on marked trails can also be great for the surrounding wildlife, because hikers play an important role in reporting anything amiss in the area. Just remember, always carry out everything you bring with you on a hike, and leave no trace behind, otherwise litter or food scraps can affect the ecosystem.
Potential for an Epic Roadtrip
Although trails can be found almost anywhere in America, there is nothing like getting away from your comfort zone and traveling to a unique destination to hike. Because hiking is free, and campgrounds can often be found near popular trails, the only serious cost of travel is gas for your car and maybe an investment in good hiking gear. This summer, plan a roadtrip with your friends to a mountain of your choice, and get hiking on some popular trails.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Murphy