Improve Your Health by Hiking

“There is no fever that a 10-mile hike can’t cure,” said Garrison Keillor, the host of National Public Radio’s Prairie Home Companion. HIking has long been considered a tonic for good health.

Until recently, there was very little done to support this belief. Researchers from Austria revealed the results of a fascinating study that proves that different types of hikes affects fats and sugars in the blood in different ways. The way they did it was by having one group of people hike up the ski slope and ride down the cable car and another group ride up the slope in a cable car and hike down. After two months of hiking the groups switched hiking programs and the experiment was repeated.

Hiking uphill was proved to be beneficial to the body but Vararlberg Institute for Vascular Investigation and Treatment researchers found that hiking downhill has its unique benefits. The results are astounding:

  • Both types of hiking lower bad cholesterol (LDL).
  • Hiking uphill reduces triglyceride levels.
  • Hiking downhill was nearly twice as effective as uphill hiking at removing blood sugars while improving glucose tolerance.

Hiking is not just good for your body. Your mind and emotions are also affected in a good way. Researchers from the University of Essex compared the benefits of hiking in different environments inluding in the woods, around a lake, in a nature park and an indoor shopping center.

The study concluded that in general:

  • Hiking in the countryside reduces depression
  • Walking in a shopping center increases depression
  • Hiking in the countryside increases self-esteem
  • Walking around a shopping center decreases self-esteem
  • Hiking in the countryside improves your mood
  • A stroll at the shopping center worsens your mood

Another surprising report which was published in Men’s Health magazine was that while trekking poles are designed to make hiking easier, it was found that “hikers using poles work out harder without feeling any extra effort.” They use 10 percent more oxygen and had heart rates 6 percent higher than hikers walking at the same speed without poles – yet they reported no perceived increase in exertion.

Mike Saunders, Ph.D says “They burned more calories without feeling the extra effort because possibly the workload is spread over the entire body, nut just he legs.”

Hiking for health has now become a trend. The message on the idea seem be everywhere from cereal boxes, candy wrappers and health magazines. Hiking spas which combines hiking with health-resort activities are more popular today than ever.

Hiking Mount Washington

I just read a lovely  article published by the New York Times.

It was written by Keith Mulvhill who tells a story about his experience hiking Mount Washington.

Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast at 6,288 feet. It’s a popular destination for mountain hiking in the summer. Hikers usually start at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center on the east side of Mount Washington. It’s a four-mile hike to the summit and each mile is about a 1000 feet of elevation.

It gets quiet in winter because the weather up there can get quite nasty. Mount Washington is famous for winds that reach 100 miles per hour and comes at least weekly. The fastest wind speed recorded was 231 miles per hour. It’s the fastest wind speed ever recorded on the earth’s surface. Winter season starts in October and ends in May.

Despite the nasty cold weather, hiking up Mount Washington in winter can be very satisfying. With less people and no mosquitoes to worry about, you truly experience what Mount Washington has to offer.

The weather actually enhances the experience and it was reported that many people come back disappointed when the winds were relatively gentle and the skies blue.

Keith goes on to tell his story about hiking up Mount Washington. You may learn something about mountain hiking if you go to the New York Times article.

Important tips to learn from the experience include the importance of the right clothing so you don’t risk hypothermia, how to conserve energy and what hiking equipment you should have. Crampons, balaclavas, goggles and sunglasses are a must.

Upcoming Three-mile Hiking Event

Mary McMullen, Town Trails and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator has scheduled three recreational opportunities that she says she will definitely accomplish.

The event, which would attract a lot of families and outdoor enthusiasts, includes and three-mile hike, urban biking and wildlife viewing.

Hiking Event

The hiking event will begin at 8:30 a.m. on January 24 at the Boulders Trailhead located 3.7 miles east of Highway 260 on Granite Dells Road.

The hike, which will be led by McMullen herself, is rated as moderate but there will be some slopes, loose granite and water that must be traversed.

You will enjoy the fantastic views along the trail, which are of Granite Dells and riparian areas.

It is advised that you bring you use good quality hiking boots, drinking water and walking sticks.

It will be a free hiking event and anyone can join but be sure to sign-up. It is recommended that you pre-register at the P&R offices even though sign-up can be completed prior to the event.

Urban Biking

Aspiring mountain bikers and those wanting to learn about the sport will appreciate the urban biking event. There will be a $15 charge for the event which includes a two-hour clinic and ride.

Participants are expected  to bring along their own mountain bikes, helmet, tire repair kit and pump.

The event will begin at 10 a.m., January 31st at Ramada No.1 in Rumsey Park.

The longtime local mountain hiking guru himself, Dan Basinski will conduct the event which will cover bike setup, maintenance and repair, and practice in mountain biking techniques.

The wrap-up will be a trail ride near Payson, which promises to be a fun and exciting event.

Wildlife Watching

The final event is  a  wildlife-watching seminar which be held from 6 to 7 p.m., February 18 at the Green Valley Park P&R office.

The main purpose of this event is to learn to view wildlife responsibly with minimum impact on the animals and habitat.“It will include a slide show and hints on where to go to get good views of wildlife,” McMullen said.

Arizona Game and Fish Urban and Watchable Wildlife Program Manager Joe Yarchin will host the clinic.

For more information about any of the three events, call McMullen at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.