Sometimes getting back to nature and getting a good workout is no more difficult than strapping on a good pair of shoes and taking a simple hike. Put on some sunscreen and bug repellant, and enjoy these five health benefits of hiking this summer:

Cardiovascular Fitness

As with any prolonged movement or exercise, hiking can improve your cardiovascular fitness. And since it’s an engaging and adventurous workout, it’s easier to maintain. Your heart, lungs and blood vessels will be get fitter and healthier every time you hike.

Muscle Strength

Hiking works out almost every area of your body. More than just your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves, hiking engages your core and your upper body as well. As opposed to just walking, your whole body is active while you hike.

Bone Health

Because hiking is a weight-bearing exercise, improves your muscle strength. It also has positive effects on your bone density. Your bones get stronger, meaning your chances of losing bone density due to age or inactivity begin to decrease.

Disease Prevention

As your health improves with hiking, your risk of disease goes down. Hiking increases your cardio health and decreases your risk of heart disease, stroke and hypertension, as well as helping to lower your blood pressure and blood sugar. Your chances of developing type 2 diabetes go down when you hike. Even risks of colon cancer and breast cancer have been shown to ease with regular cardio exercise.

Mental Well-Being

Finally, hiking is just as good for your mind as it is for your body. The cardiovascular activity improves your mood, but the experience of exercising in nature also has a positive effect. You’re less likely to be depressed and you’ll sleep better. Taking time to hike can help combat symptoms of stress and anxiety. And you’ll find you’re just happier because you’re finally doing something for yourself.

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