As you grow older, it becomes more vital that you stay fit and healthy. Unfortunately, many seniors struggle to find a form of fitness that they enjoy. But have you considered hiking? Besides getting you out into nature, there are several health benefits of hiking for seniors.
Some of the most common health benefits include improvement in your cardiovascular health and stronger bones, which can decrease your risk of osteoporosis. Hiking also improves blood circulation and strengthens your muscles, improves balance as well as mental health and memory.
As we can see, there are many reasons why you might want to strap on your hiking boots. Let’s look at some of the things you need to know before you hit the trails.
Why Is Hiking So Beneficial?
As we’ve seen, there are plenty of reasons to take up hiking. But what makes this activity so good for your health and fitness? First, a lack of exercise is one of the biggest challenges for older adults. Adults should aim for around 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. But about 80 percent of people aren’t achieving this, which can have adverse health effects.
For example, there is a higher chance that they will become obese or developing diabetes. By taking up hiking, you’ll be able to get more exercise, preventing these downsides. But it’s not just the exercise you do; it’s the type of activity you perform.
Hiking can work out the right areas of the body. Unlike city streets, hiking paths lack paving, which means that they might be slightly uneven, and walking may improve your balance. As you walk, your center of gravity will shift, meaning you need to work harder on staying upright. By practicing this skill on your hike, you might be able to reduce the chances that you will have a fall.
Hiking will allow you to target several muscle groups at the same time. For example, you will be using your legs. But you’ll also be working out your core muscles. In some cases, you might use your arms, carrying a walking stick for balance. This will force your heart to work harder, improving your circulation. The more often you exercise, the stronger your bones will become.
This is especially true for weight-bearing exercises, like hiking. There is also plenty of evidence that hiking could be beneficial for your mental health. Spending time in nature can help you relax. This can help you find a better way of controlling your emotions. This is especially true if you hike in a group. Lower stress can, in turn, can help reduce your blood pressure, keeping you healthy.
Finally, walking might be able to protect you from mental decline. As you go on your walks, you can observe more of the natural world. This could be the reason why hikes can help slow the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Finding A Hiking Trail
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of some of the reasons why you might want to consider hiking. But where will you be able to find the right trail? There are many places that you can hike.
These can include:
- National parks and local nature reserves ·
- You can use the internet to find a hiking trail ·
- Asking local guides for hikes.
Hopefully, you now have a lot of potential areas that you can hike through. But not every hike will be suitable for a senior. So, what makes or breaks a successful hike?
First, you should make sure to find a flat track. This will be easier for you to walk on. Most national parks will rank their tracks, according to how difficult they are. If it doesn’t have a grading, you might want to call ahead and talk to a ranger or land manager. You should also be making sure that you find a shorter trail. This will ensure that you don’t overexert yourself.
In some cases, you might be able to find a trail that has a rest area at the end.
This will give you a place to rest and recover hiking back. As you get more used to hiking, you can feel free to take on more advanced tracks.
Preparing For A Hike
Once you’ve found the right track, you’ll need to take some time to prepare for the journey. Doing a few essential activities before you leave will allow you to complete the hike safely. First, you should make sure that you have the right equipment. You might want to buy a high-quality pair of hiking shoes. They can help you feel more stable and confident on the trail. You should also take along sun protection. This can include wearing sunscreen, taking a hat, and using sunglasses.
You should also make sure that you have adequate supplies. This can mean taking along plenty of food and water. You should have at least two bottles of water. A trail mix containing nuts and berries can be a great way of getting plenty of energy when on your trip.
Finally, you should take adequate safety precautions. Always make sure to tell someone that you are going on the hike and when you should return. As you get back home, give them a call, letting them know that you are safe. This system ensures that someone will see if you encounter trouble on the track. They can then alert the authorities.
What To Do On The Hike
By now, you should be ready for a hiking adventure. But there are a few things on the journey you can do to make sure that you stay safe and have a great trip. First, pick a pace that is comfortable for you. There is no need to rush. Enjoy the time you spend in nature.
If you start to hurry, you’ll increase the chances that you fall and get injured. You should also make sure to take frequent breaks. Stopping regularly for food and water will help you make sure that you don’t get dehydrated. It will also help you make sure that you don’t get exhausted.
In some cases, you might want to try walking as part of a group.
This will give you someone to talk to during the trip. You can ask your friends or family members to go with you. Or, you can try searching online for local community groups. Lastly, make sure that you enjoy the experience. Take pictures of things that interest you. By keeping a positive attitude, you will look forward to your hikes. This will make it easier to include them in your routine.
Hiking For Your Health
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of some of the reasons why hiking is so healthy for seniors. Hiking can help you build stronger muscles, improve your heart functioning, and slow the onset of Alzheimer’s. When finding the right hike, try to get a trail that is short and flat.
Make sure to use hiking shoes, take sun protection, and pack plenty of water. Take regular breaks and consider hiking in a group.