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Breathe deeply, feel nature, enjoy the view.

Hiking and mountaineering are good for body and soul. Hiking is both a means of prevention and an adjunctive therapy for lifestyle diseases.

The proven positive health effects of hiking in the mountains are so ingenious that I summarize them here again for you. After that, there are no more excuses: put on the hiking boots and come with me on a hiking tour. Here you can register, no matter if you are a beginner or advanced in hiking.

In short, anyone who continually spends about 2,000 calories a week on exercise is significantly less ill, recovering faster in an emergency, and living longer. Virtually side effect-free, the heart, circulation, metabolism and respiration, and musculoskeletal system are strengthened, while the risk of infarction, cancer and diabetes decreases by more than half.

1. The physical effects (body) of walking in detail:

Heart and circulation

Regular and moderate exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disorders. Persevering walking exercises – similar to a slow endurance – influence the fat metabolism and the immune system. If, in addition, some pulse-accelerating gradients are to be mastered, circulation benefits as well. Overall, it takes a little longer to get physically fit, so the effect lasts longer and is not – as in hard performance training – endangered by excessive demands and injuries. (see Manson et al 1999, Morris / Hardman 1997).

Overweight

Approximately 350 Kcal per hour is burned with a light hike, while a hike in the mountains increases the consumption to 555 Kcal. Hiking is an endurance sport that, in contrast to other endurance sports, can still be performed by people with strong overweight. Due to the high weight, overweight people consume more energy than the average. The proportion of fat burning in the entire metabolism is twice as high, i.e. 40 – 60%, than when running. (see Morris / Hardman 1997).

According to a study by the Munich University Hospital, obese people also lose weight due to their low oxygen content in mountainous regions. It is believed that the mountain air curbs the appetite. Another study from Cologne showed: While hiking you use 20 percent more calories – at the same pulse rate, like working out on an ergometer.

Musculoskeletal system

In the area of the lower extremities, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments are stabilized or strengthened. This relieves the strain on the knees and hip joints and on the training of the entire musculature of the body. This reduces the risk of injury (see Morris / Hardman 1997).

Immune system

Regular exercise results in strengthening of the immune system and thus a lower susceptibility to infectious diseases (see Research Institute for Vacation and Recreational Medicine 2008).

Diabetes

Exercise increases the disturbed glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity by increasing the body’s own insulin cells. However, the exercise of sport is not unproblematic for diabetics: prolonged low-intensity exercise, such as walking, is preferable to short, high intensity exercise (see Morris / Hardman 1997, Sesso 1999).

Respiratory system

Regular hiking leads to an increase in breathing volume and vital lung capacity. This results in deeper, more regular breathing, a lower respiratory rate and better blood flow to the lungs (see Morris / Hardman 1997).

Age

Regular walking or walking of older persons ensures an improvement of endurance and neuromuscular coordination. Hiking thus reduces the potential for higher risk of falls of the elderly and increases physical performance. Both are factors that reduce the need for care of the elderly (see Morris / Hardman, 1997).

 

2. The psychic effects (soul) of walking, in short:

Mood

Walking for longer periods of time reinforced – among others as a result of altered metabolism – the production of endogenous hormones and messengers such as serotonin and dopamine. This combines feelings of well-being and happiness as well as the reduction of negative moods such as sadness and anger (see Morris / Hardman 1997).

Stress

Studies have shown that merely looking at a landscape or looking out the window is enough to lower heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tone, as well as reduce the release of stress hormones. In the wild, this effect is amplified. Prolonged physical stress is therefore an effective means of reducing acute stress. Other positive effects include an increase in stress resistance, a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol and a facilitation of stress management (see Morris / Hardman 1997).

Depression

Mild and moderate forms of depression can be prevented by regular exercise. The anti-depressant effect of walking reaches in part that of relevant drugs and psychotherapeutic treatment methods (see Blumenthal et al., 1999).

3. And here are the cognitive effects (mind) of walking, in short:

Neurobiological correlations

There are plenty of explanations for the beneficial effects of exercise on our brain function, which penetrate ever deeper into the functional mechanisms of the brain. For example, the blood flow in the brain increases with low walking movements, while the age-related breakdown of nerve tissue is slowed down. In addition, walking increases the rate of branching and renewal of cranial nerve cells and increases mental performance. The direct relationship between physical activity and mental performance has been demonstrated in several studies (see Blumenthal et al., 1999).

Dementia

The cognitive decline in performance can be slowed down by regular, persistent walking. Walking prevents the development of dementia and is recommended as a way of increasing or maintaining cognitive functioning (see Abbot et al., 2004).

Additional factor ‚nature’

Numerous studies prove what indigenous peoples have always known: nature contacts stimulate the mind and have cognitively invigorating effects (see Hartig et al., 1991, Hug et al., 2008, Kaplan / Kaplan 1982). In other words, hiking works wonders.

In any case, hiking is an excellent preventative. Peaceful exercise in the countryside calms and destresses. 90% of the hikers feel generally fitter after the hike, 80% feel much happier afterwards and 50% feel physically fitter after the tour.

Walking is therefore an excellent “endurance training” for the heart and brain, which can always and everywhere be performed and exercised for a lifetime.