“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.