Hiking, Camping and Health – The Benefits of being Outdoors

Today more and more people, especially in Europe and America, are taking up hiking and camping as major outdoor activities. Not only are these non-extreme forms of exercise and relaxation being taken up in the civilized western world, but studies show that the trend is worldwide.

Why is being Outdoors so good for us?

Have you ever thought why? Exactly what are the health benefits of being outdoors? Are these outdoor events really beneficial to our health? Are hiking and camping for everyone or are they limited for a chosen few? Are there only health benefits or are there psychological benefits too?

These are some of the questions I have been asking myself and researching for the blog, hopefully I’ll be able to convey what I know from my personal experience of an outdoors lifestyle, and what I’ve recently found out by researching to you in this post.

If you seek answers to these kinds of questions, then you have an enquiring mind like myself and you are in the right place. I love to learn and spend a large part of my relaxation time reading and researching the Outdoors and Physical Exercise in general.

The Subjective Benefits of being Outdoors

Although most of the benefits of an active outdoor life are subjective in nature, we can see the results in others and ourselves clearly, even though they cannot truly be measured in units. So many of my Outdoor Enthusiast friends are the most unstressed, upbeat, healthy looking and successful people I know. Coincidence? I think not.

Most of the people would immediately agree and say that there are numerous benefits that accompany and outdoor lifestyle. The many physical benefits of hiking and camping trips include controlling obesity, preventing heart disease and improving lung capacity and endurance by raising the quality of air we breathe by simply by being away from the worst areas of pollution, our cities. There is also a large body of evidence that argues that the psychological benefits could even outweigh the physical benefits of an “outdoors lifestyle”, as I like to call anything involving hiking, camping or hill walking .

While many sports activities and games require special equipment or training to get started, the simplest outdoor activities such as hiking or hill walking are relatively simple to do, they require almost no equipment and they are turning out in studies to be more beneficial than any other forms of exercise.

Literally, anyone can put on a pair of shoes a jacket and some shorts along with carrying a few bits of “just in case” safety equipment and start walking into the woods, fields or hills for a little fresh air. This is as complex as hiking gets!

Hiking is for Everyone (Almost)

In the UK (where I’m from), Spain (where I recently lived) and the rest of the World (where I aspire to visit) there are an almost infinite number of trails, hikes, marked routes, caminos, pilgrimages, ascents and challenges to fit the needs and desires of everyone. The breath-taking scenery, easy accessibility and diverse nature of hiking trails make this outdoor activity attractive for people of all ages, all fitness levels and all economic backgrounds. The benefits of being Outdoors, Hiking and Camping are available to just about everyone.

Hiking and camping allow us to keep ourselves fit and maintain our body in good working condition without over exertion and usually by simply walking without carrying too much weight, which in itself is suitable enough exercise for almost everyone. Hiking is essentially just walking at your own pace, that is what your body was actually designed to do through millions of years of evolution. Anyone can find trails in their local area with a few minutes of research online to suit their current and desired levels of fitness and ability. And unlike other activities or sports, it is a pursuit that allows people to speed up, slow down and set their own limitations.

Many research findings and studies show that hiking is an excellent way to lose extra pounds and improve overall health. To improve overall health, we don’t necessarily need to do heavy and painful workouts, but just a short brisk walk of few minutes can be more than sufficient. Even low to moderate intensity walking can have both short and long term benefits . The weight loss and health benefits of hiking will be more permanent and pleasurable than any diet or weight loss scheme you have undertaken before.

Simply being Outdoors is the ideal program for good health and longevity

I watched a Ted Talk yesterday by a Cardiac Surgeon who was also an Ultra Marathon Athlete. He has been part of a group studying the heart condition and health of diverse sections of of western society, and he was so surprised with his findings that he decided to make a presentation of them on a Ted Talk. His findings which have now been verified in far larger and more in depth studies surprised me too.

The Ultra Athletes were in the same Cardiac Danger Area (using a series of data points used by surgeons on scans to detect potential heart failure) as the Couch Potatoes! Overstressing your heart with these mega challenges apparently does as much damage as no exercise at all.

However the study came out with another finding that flies in the face of certainly what I was told growing up. The old thought was that 3-4 sessions a week of 45 minutes of vigorous exercise was the ideas program for health. The results of his, and another far larger study carried out since, show that 20 minutes of moderate exercise 7 days a week has now been confirmed as the ideal program for good health and longevity. “Daily Hiking” anyone?

The Benefits of an Outdoors Lifestyle

When it comes to listing the health benefits of a regular “Outdoors Lifestyle” the list is almost endless consisting of several mental as well as physical health benefits, such as losing weight, trimming excess body fat, preventing heart disease, decreasing hypertension or high blood pressure, improving and maintaining mental health, slowing the aging process, preventing osteoporosis, improving lung capacity and the quality of the air we breathe, preventing and controlling diabetes, improving arthritis, relieving back pain and of course looking better and fitter.

Last but not least, as well as the countless health benefits on offer, Hiking and Camping are also social activities that can be shared with friends and families and can also be used as a way to meet new people who share a common healthy lifestyle with you.

I’ll just remind you of the tagline of our blog before I go:
“Get Outside, Feel Amazing, Live Longer”.