It is a well known fact that exercise and the great outdoors are excellent ways to improve your physical health and your mental health. That is why mountaineering is such a good hobby to have. Not only do you get to appreciate nature and the stunning scenery which is around us, but your body will benefit from it too. Experience the benefits of the great outdoors while pushing yourself to new limits with the challenge of a climb.
What are the benefits of mountaineering and hiking?
1. Improving cardiovascular health
As with any cardio, hiking, hillwalking and mountaineering are great ways to get your heart pumping. The steeper, or more challenging the hike, the more these organs will be made to work. There are many health benefits with improving your cardiovascular health such as lowering cholesterol levels, regulating blood sugar levels and reducing blood pressure. The long term benefits of hiking will reduce your likelihood of any future heart problems.
2. Working on balance
If you find that you do not have great balance naturally, mountaineering is an effective way to improve core strength and balance as it works all of your core muscles constantly. This helps you balance when you may be walking on uneven terrain or on extreme inclines or declines.
Overtime, with practice and consistency your muscles will strengthen and your balance should improve.
3. Overall improvement in strength
It may seem obvious that hillwalking and mountaineering will improve, grow and strengthen your leg muscles, but your overall body will grow in strength. As you will be engaging core muscles without even noticing, your body will benefit completely from the climbing, and even more so if you are scrambling.
Over time, as you complete even more hillwalking and hiking trails, your stamina and endurance will improve. As you progress, your fitness levels will improve and the speed at which you complete trails will get quicker.
5. Mental agility
Mountaineering and hiking can help to improve mental agility- this is because it enhances your capacity to respond to events in a flexible way whilst moving quickly between different ideas. This skill is essential especially in situations where weather conditions can take unexpected turns, navigational errors may occur or injuries within the group could arise.
6. Stress relief
During stressful situations, getting out of the house and into nature is a great release.
Being outside and amongst nature is a great way to clear your mind, calm anxiety and reduce stress. This is said to be due to a number of factors, one of them being that time in nature actually reduces cortisol levels which is a stress hormone. Nature and the great outdoors boosts endorphins and dopamine production which promotes happiness. This combined with the benefits of the exercise activity of hiking itself further improves your production of ‘ ‘feel good’’ neurotransmitters leaving you feeling relieved and even revived when it comes to mood.
7. Enhanced sleep
If you struggle with a bad sleeping pattern, or have disturbed sleep often, hiking can significantly enhance your sleep. But how does it do this? Hiking in general is a tiring activity, so it will naturally tire your body and mind. However, another way hiking can improve your sleep is by reducing stress levels which will make it easier to switch off in the evening. Being outside in natural light all day also reinforces the natural sleep-wake cycle, training your mind to switch off when it begins to darken in the evening.
How to prepare for hiking and mountaineering
The main way to prepare for hiking and mountaineering is making sure you have all of the essentials such as navigational tools, first aid supplies and additional food, water and clothing. It is also important to check the weather forecast before your walk so that you can prepare for the worst even if the forecast says otherwise.
Another way to prepare, which is often forgotten about, is to ensure you have the right financial protection. This is important if you are a frequent hiker and take on difficult routes. One company who provides specialist financial services for mountaineering and hillwalking cover is Summit Financial Services. With their help you can have the right mountaineering life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection at the best rates which will give you financial peace of mind that you, your home and your family are protected should the worst happen.