5 surprising benefits of hiking

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Have you tried hiking?

Many Manitobans love this pastime! It’s the perfect activity because of Manitoba’s big and beautiful parks. These areas have fantastic hiking trails, and the best part is that you can explore them in any season.

Isn’t hiking the same as walking?

You can think of hiking as a more strenuous type of walking. It is also done in the country or woods, not on the road or sidewalk. Hiking takes longer and the trails can get rugged. Paths can go up or down. Because of this, you may need proper equipment and footwear, depending on where you intend to hike.

But just like walking, hiking has been found to improve your heart health, strengthen your bones and muscles, decrease the risk of some respiratory problems, and even combat diabetes (Cleveland Clinic).

Aside from these benefits, here are others you might find interesting:

  1. Hiking boosts your mental health

    Being in nature has a calming effect on the mind. Walking through forests, breathing in fresh air, and hearing the calming sounds of flowing rivers can be a therapeutic experience.

    Hiking is also a chance to disconnect from screens and connect with the natural world. Taking a break from technology during a hike allows your mind to unwind and reduce stress. All of this have also been shown to boost memory and brain function, enhancing cognitive abilities and mental sharpness.

  2. Hiking improves your balance

    Hiking often involves navigating uneven terrain, which challenges your body to maintain balance. As you continue walking, your leg and core muscles are engaging and contracting, even when you’re using trekking poles. This strengthens your muscles over time and improves your overall balance and coordination.

  3. Hiking improves your self-esteem

    Overcoming the challenges of a hiking trail, especially those with varying levels of difficulty, is a confidence boost. A successful trek does not only involve physical strength and endurance. You’ll also need foresight to plan and prepare for any contingency. You should also have navigational skills. Being able to use all these skills while trekking is a fantastic achievement you can be proud of. Your confidence builds each time you go out and finish a trail.

  4. It relieves insomnia and improve sleep

    Regular physical activity, such as hiking, has been linked to improved sleep quality. Being under natural light during the day, plus exposure to Vitamin D, and the physical exertion contribute to a more restful night’s sleep.

  5. Hiking builds community

    Hiking is an excellent way to build a sense of community. It’s a social activity that allows you to connect with others who share similar interests. If you’re a beginner, going on group hikes can be the safer choice than going alone. Don’t worry! There are many Manitoba hiking groups that you can join. Here are some of them:

Suggested trails to explore in Manitoba:

Happy hiking!

Sources: What’s the difference between a walk, hike, trek and tramp? World Expeditions; 11 benefits of hiking for health and well-being, Kristen Bor, Bearfoot Theory; and 9 benefits of hiking, Cleveland Clinic. Accessed December 19, 2023.

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