Exercise in Nature: Why Hiking Is a Mind-Body Workout

It might sound like there is no big difference between walking and hiking. Both activities require extensive legwork and endurance if you plan to go for the big sessions.

Of course, hiking has its own set of perks that are specific to this activity. First of all, it usually entails complete immersion in a beautiful natural landscape, with fresh air and the scents and sounds of nature. It can be, at the same time, a calming experience - nearly meditative - and challenging at the same time.

This is why it presents such a potent prospect for individuals that are looking for a perfectly balanced mind-body workout.

Varied terrain

Cardio is an important aspect of every workout routine, and venturing into nature can help you mix things up. Among the reasons why hiking improves your running, the versatility of terrain is one of the big ones.

If you venture out on a jog through your neighborhood, and the road is flat, pristinely asphalted, and it doesn’t pose a modicum of challenge. The same goes for the most tracks around the city.

While it is legitimate to jog on flat terrain, you should keep in mind that this mostly helps maintain or boost your endurance. What you want is a boost in your coordination and strength as well, which is where rugged terrains come in.

If you only take a chance to venture out into the closest national park you’ll find yourself trekking across rugged terrain with an effort that requires prowess and adaptation. Venture off the beaten path for a truly challenging playground for your legs.

Your immune system will soar

Medical studies have uncovered that spending time in nature boosts your immunity. If you allow yourself the luxury of venturing into greenery at least once a week, this can have a profound impact on your biochemical processes.

Hiking decreases your chances of developing some cancers, especially in the case of breast and colon cancers, though there is also an indication that it increases expectancy and quality of life quality among lung cancer patients. Hiking simply reduces oxidative stress, and it can help people in recovery immensely.

It improves cardiovascular health

It shouldn’t present a surprise to anyone that hiking improves blood flow. It keeps the cardiovascular system in top shape by helping you reduce your triglyceride levels, improving your cholesterol balance and, simply speaking, burning fat.

The circulation in the blood vessels of your brain also increases, which will lead to a sharper mind and better thinking. Naturally, this can have a profound impact on your mood in the foreseeable future as well, not least because of increased cardiovascular efficiency in your brain - your body will start producing beneficial hormones that contribute to the overall feeling of elation and positivity.

Vitamin D

When people think of exercising, they usually imagine themselves running on a treadmill under the LED beams of light in the gym. In the best of cases, they imagine themselves running in the local park, and maybe doing some yoga stretches on the lawn.

While the latter scenario provides you with ample sunlight (in addition to healthy exercise), it doesn’t have the same impact as spending three hours, or more, surrounded by the rustling of the leaves and chirping of the birds.

Crucially, the regular contact of sun rays with your skin encourages your body to produce a daily dose of vitamin D, which keeps both your muscles and bones strong and solid.

While it is true that you can take vitamin D in the form of supplements, the ingestion of this crucial vitamin entails less than efficient biochemical processes before your body can use it. Spending time in nature, under the sun, is the most efficient and direct way to get the required daily dose.


Taking your workout routine into the lush wilderness might be just what the doctor ordered. The potential and the appeal of the great outdoors are almost limitless, and you can pretty much find a way to work on every group of muscles whilst you're blazing the trail.

It will not only keep the blood pumping and the musculature tight - it also improves your overall health and reactivity of your immune system. Plus, it can just be so giddily adventurous and fun.

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