Most of us know we need to exercise more, but with increasingly busy lives, it’s important to prioritise the activity that will give us the greatest health benefit. After a long day sitting at a desk inside a stuffy office, working out in a gym couldn’t be less appealing. It’s no surprise that more and more people are ditching the gym and hitting the trails to improve their health. And the good news is, just 30 minutes a day of walking or hiking can make a significant impact on your health!
Need convincing to get your walking boots on? Here are ten health benefits of trekking – some will surpise you!
1) Live longer!
Research has shown that just walking 5 miles a week at a slow pace is enough to reduce your risk of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure by 31%. 5 miles is just 10,000 steps – so if you’re addicted to your Fitbit and find yourself pacing around at night to reach 10,000 steps, then well done – you are absolutely smashing that target!
Being active is also one of the key ways to reduce your risk of cancer. Exercise lowers the estrogen in your blood stream which is believed to be the reason why active women are around 30% less likely to develop breast cancer.
2) Boost your mood
Doctors are increasingly prescribing exercise such as walking to combat depression and many clinical studies have showed that exercise can improve depressive symptoms to a comparable extent to the use of anti-depressant drugs. Trekking is an excellent mood booster because it combines the physiological benefits of exercise with the mental health benefits of being surrounded by nature and socialising with other people on the trail.
More and more studies are showing a link between the amount of time that people spend in nature and their mental wellbeing. Some clinically proven benefits of spending time in nature include; reduction in stress and blood pressure and improved sleep and energy levels. In our increasingly fast paced society, reduction of stress and increased emotional well being is one of the most important health benefits of trekking!
3) Strengthen your heart
Walking becomes a cardio work out when you push yourself to the point that conversation becomes more difficult. On the Tour du Mont Blanc trek and Haute Route trek, some days involve ascents of 1000m and you will certainly feel out of breath on those! Cardio exercise is important for strengthening your heart, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
4) Increase your metabolism
Just spending 20 minutes in any fixed position leads to a decrease in our metabolism and 4 hours of inactivity almost completely shuts down enzymes that metabolise fats! When you’re at work, it’s important to take regular screen breaks to combat this. Trekking can also improve your metabolism by building muscle mass in your legs. The more muscle mass you have, the greater your resting metabolic rate – for every 4.5lbs of muscle mass your resting metabolic rate increase by 50Kcal per day.
5) Burn calories
For many people this is one of the most important health benefits of trekking! When you consider that taking your dog for a half an hour walk burns 100 calories, it’s easy to see the weight loss potential of trekking! On the Tour du Mont Blanc and Haute route trek, we typically walk for 6-8 hours per day, over very hilly terrain! That means that we are almost burning our entire daily allowance of calories, which is a good thing considering how delicious swiss food is!