Benefits of Hiking for First Responders
Date:Tuesday April 11, 2023
Hiking is an ideal workout for first responders because it addresses physical, mental, and emotional health. This maximizes the positive impact of the time spent exercising.
Science-Backed Reasons to Hike
According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, there are many benefits to hiking that make it a great form of exercise:
- Hikers tend to burn more calories than walkers or runners
- Hikers are more likely to commit to regular exercise
- Hikers report they are happier engaging in hiking than other types of exercise
- Spending time outdoors is proven to increase mental wellbeing
- A cure for “nature deficit disorder” – those who are outside more are healthier
Why Hiking is a Great Option for Restorative Exercise
1. Hiking provides exposure to daylight, nature, and fresh air. Being in nature has a positive impact on health by exposing our bodies to their natural environment. This has positive health implications in a number of ways, for example, being outside in the sunshine can help reset the body’s circadian rhythm, improving sleep quality, and even supporting metabolism.
2. Hiking encourages connection with other people. Typical safety rules for hiking suggest that people shouldn’t hike alone, therefore they should find a friend, coworker, family member, or member of a local hiking club to adventure with. This gives first responders an opportunity to both exercise and invest time with a loved one, or get outside their usual social circles and connect with people of different backgrounds.
3. Hiking can help support and refresh mental and emotional health. It’s well established in the psychology community that being outside in nature is restorative. Listening to birds, watching trees move in the wind, and grounding ourselves in the outdoors have a measurable, positive impact on our nervous system, even supporting heart health.
4. Hiking provides dynamic experiences and unique physical challenges. You’ll never take the same hike twice, because seasons, weather, flora, and fauna are always changing, which helps to keep this form of exercise interesting. While some may choose to ease into the hiking world with gentle nature walks, advanced trails and steep inclines can provide excellent, high intensity workouts for those looking for a challenge. There’s a hike out there for just about everyone. AllTrails.com is a good, free resource for finding and choosing hikes in a given local area.
Hiking can be a great form of restorative exercise for first responders, especially in the spring and summer months when there is so much to see and enjoy in the great outdoors.