Is Hiking for Kids Beneficial?
Over the past 20 years, there has been a growing interest and later obsession with physical exercise. This is mainly represented by people working out at the gym. The influence of social media surely contributed to working out being a continuous trend. Yet, no one can deny people’s genuine care for their health and their bodies.
Such care, as we have just mentioned, is commonly initiated by a gym membership. But this can sometimes be a costly option for some people. Others may like to practice sports such as playing football which when done with friends can be a lot of fun. Other fun sports include biking, swimming, tennis, and basketball.
However, every sport of those may still be demanding. For football, a playground is needed. Biking requires, yes, a bike. And a pool must be available to go swimming unless there is a river or a lake nearby.
Having said that, there is only one exercise that does not require more than a pair of trainers: hiking.
What is hiking?
Hiking is some sort of walking. There is, though, a slight difference between the two activities. Walking is often done in the city; on roads and pavements or around it in the urban area. Walking can also be done indoors on treadmills.
On the other hand, hiking is walking, usually done for pleasure in the countryside or mountains. Interestingly, the term hiking only exists in North America. In the UK, every form of walking is just walking. But there are different other terms that describe out-of-city walking such as hillwalking and fellwalking. In Australia, the term becomes bushwalking.
History of hiking
Walking is a pretty straightforward exercise. It has existed ever since humans appeared on Earth. But it seems like humans have done walking more for necessity than for pleasure.
There is a dispute over who introduced walking for pleasure to mankind. Some claim it is the French poet Petrarch. He was spotted climbing mountains for no apparent reason other than having fun. That was back in the 14th century.
But walking in the countryside for pleasure did not really emerge until the 18th century in Europe. At the time, Europe was witnessing the rise of the Romantic Movement. Such movement manifested emotions and senses. It encouraged exploring and engaging with nature.
Interestingly, prior to the Romantic Movement, walking was considered either a sign of poverty or a part of religious pilgrimages. After the Romantic Movement, it suddenly turned into a widely accepted, fun exercise.
Such encouragement for taking pleasure walks was also shown in literature in the late 18th century. Writers and poets wrote about appreciating, experiencing, and seeing nature through the eyes of a tourist.
Benefits of hiking
Since many people are getting more interested in going on hikes, there must be some direct benefits that they get from it. First off, hiking is a great way to step outside the daily routine and the fast-spinning life cycle. It helps people pause for some time and prioritise their health. In addition, it allows them to relax their bodies and their minds.
Hiking was found to be extremely beneficial both for the brain and the body. So let’s explore some of those benefits.
(1) Mental health benefits
Research shows that getting outside and connecting with nature has a good effect on people’s mental health. It reduces stress and increases feelings of relaxation and happiness.
First of all, hiking gives people a chance to pull themselves out of their chosen solitude and get back to real life. Everyone now is glued to their phones all day long. High exposure to screens was proven to have negative consequences on the health.
Screens have also become a nasty source of anxiety and triggering mood swings. People addicted to social media are more likely to suffer from depression. That is because they cannot help but compare themselves to others on those falsely ‘social’ networks.
Such comparisons generate feelings of dissatisfaction in both adults and teenagers. This makes them focus more on the negative aspects of their lives which makes the good things minimise and become almost unnoticed.
Hiking, therefore, allows people to unplug. It pushes them out of their online bubbles to notice the beautiful world they are a part of. Connecting with nature helps people focus on the positive things instead. It infuses more positive vibes and manifests the little joys of life. This directly reflects on people’s quality of life and their overall satisfaction and well-being.
Given that people are now more stressed than ever, hiking becomes a high-priority activity we should add to our schedule. We must emphasise the beauty of living in the present moment; here and now.
In addition, hiking in the countryside somehow makes people able to see the full picture. They get to see their problems for how they truly are without exaggeration. Relaxation also helps people think clearly and therefore make better decisions.
The effect of such a disconnecting experience also influences how people react to their environments when they go back. Maybe a non-interrupted experience such as hiking can inspire them to improve their attention span and reduce distractions. One way to do this is to disable notifications and news on social media. Maybe people decide to dedicate more time to things that matter to them more, having realised how much they cared for unimportant things.
(2) Physical health benefits
Speaking of physical health benefits, hiking is super good for the heart as it raises the heart rate. This helps oxygen and blood to reach muscles more efficiently. Hiking thus makes the heart work better and get stronger.
In addition, increased heart rate moderates cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure.
Secondly, hiking helps build muscles, primarily those engaged with the movement such as calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes. The back and arms also get stronger through carrying gear backpacks.
Besides strengthening muscles, hiking also burns calories and helps with weight loss. It is a great, more fun exercise for those who are on a diet but hate to exercise at the gym. Such physical movement was proven to improve sleep patterns and reduce insomnia as well.
Another highly important benefit of hiking is creating a chance to meet new people, make new friends, and build a community. Social groups and communities are known to provide social support which helps a lot with feelings of worry or fear.
Whether you call it hiking, hillwalking, or bushwalking, going for a walk in nature is a great way to have fun, relax, and enjoy quality time with friends and family. Hiking helps with mood swings, stress, and anxiety. It allows people to step away from their screens and reconnect with nature, live in the present moment, and appreciate the good things they are surrounded by.
Hiking is also one of the best ways to improve one’s overall health, from increasing the heart rate to a moderate level, strengthening the cardiovascular system, to reducing cholesterol and helping with weight loss.
We highly encourage you to go on a hike soon. Public parks are perfect places to hike in. Make sure you put on trainers suitable for walking long distances. Check the weather and choose a moderate day. Bring enough water and snacks. Turn off your phone and start your journey.
If you have already tried hiking before, tell us in the comments how you found it, where you went, and whether or not you intend to repeat the experience.