6 Reasons Outdoor Hiking Might Be Your Best Summer Choice

Hiking during the summer can be a fun way to increase your health and fitness, both physically and mentally.

4 min read

Health & Wellness

6 Reasons Outdoor Hiking Might Be Your Best Summer Choice

Based in Southern California, our team at Sunny is spoiled year around with good hiking weather and ample trails to explore. But just like in other regions around the country, summer is an extra special time to get outside and hit the trail for an adventure. Not only is this the perfect way to increase the amount of time you are spending outdoors, which we now know is paramount for a healthy mind and body(1), it is also an excellent way to improve your fitness and all-around wellness. What’s not to love about that?

Here are six reasons why you might consider hitting the trail for an epic outdoor adventure and workout!

 

Safety First

When heading out for a hike, especially during the summer months, it is important to be aware of key safety precautions. While this is not an exhaustive list, and certain precautions may be more relevant in different regions when considering wild life, plants, and weather, the following are hiking best practices no matter where you live:

  • Bring Plenty of Water: Staying hydrated is essential, especially if you are gearing up for a longer trek and won’t have easily accessible water stations. A good rule of thumb is to drink a half liter of water per hour of activity, when hiking a moderately intense trail with moderate heat levels.(2) You may wish to scale up if your hike is longer, more intense, or you are experiencing heightened outdoor temps.
  • Bring Snacks: Food is fuel! And when you’re hiking, your body certainly will need it. Have snacks on hand that are high in carbohydrates and protein. Options like trail mix, nuts, and protein bars are all great choices.
  • Plan Ahead: Map out your route ahead of time so you know at least roughly where the trail is taking you. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with what kind of wildlife, plants, or weather you can expect in the area you will be hiking.
  • Tell Someone Where You Are Going: Make sure a friend or family member knows where you will be hiking and when they should expect you to complete the hike. In a worst-case scenario where you get stuck on the trail, your buddy can give the emergency rescuers your location.

 

6 Reasons to Add Hiking to Your Summer Workout Program

1. Mix Up Your Workout Routine

Variety is the spice of life, as they say! If your exercise program is feeling repetitive and a little lackluster, why not switch things up with a hike? You may not even feel like you are working out! If you often use exercise machines in your home or at the gym and are ready for something new, this swap might be just the mental boost you need.

 

2. Boost Cardiovascular Health

If cardio is down at the bottom of your list of favorite exercises, hiking might be the perfect way to feel a little more enthusiastic about exercise away from the squat rack. Most trails have at least mild incline, a great way to get your heart rate through the roof. Even if you don’t end up climbing a mountain during your hike, any sustained distance will help you achieve your Zone II training. American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, and hiking can help you achieve your heart health goals!(1)

 

3. Build Muscular Strength

Hiking up incline or on an uneven terrain is a great way to build muscular stability and strength in the legs and glutes. While there is no replacement for good old fashioned resistance training, hiking can be an excellent way to supplement your weightlifting routine.

 

4. Decrease Stress and Improve Mental Health

Research has conclusively observed that individual’s mental health improves the more time they spend in nature. Additionally, it was found that stress levels were reduced when people had green spaces easily accessible to them. Physiological stress markers such as blood pressure and cortisol levels significantly decreased in those who spent more time outside, when compared to their counterparts who spend less time outside. Not only is hiking good for boosting physical health, but it is also an excellent tool to take care of your mental wellbeing.(3)

 

5. Connect with Your Hiking Buddies

Continuing in the same vein as mental health, hiking is the perfect healthy activity for spending quality time with your friends and family. Get your heart rate up, build muscle, and connect with your loved ones.

 

6. Get Your Dose of Vitamin D

Vitamin D, an essential micronutrient responsible for bone, muscle, nerve, and immune system health (amongst other things), can be found in a healthy, well-rounded diet. Another way you can obtain Vitamin D is through sun exposure! While you’re hiking during the sun-filled summer months, you’ll be sure to level up your Vitamin D intake.(4)

 

The Final Push

Hiking during the summer can be a fun way to increase your health and fitness, both physically and mentally. Enjoy a stress-free, cardiovascular workout with your hiking friends, as you work on building leg strength and topping off those Vitamin D levels. This summer activity really does it all! Stay safe and enjoy your time on the trail.

 

Outdoor Hiking in Summer Infographic
Outdoor Hiking in Summer Infographic

 

1. American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults and kids. www.heart.org. (2024a, January 19). https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults. Accessed 25 June 2024.
2. REI. (n.d.). Hydration basics: How to stay hydrated: Rei Co-op. REI. https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hydrate.html. Accessed 25 June 2024.
3. Mitten, D., Overholt, J. R., Haynes, F. I., D’Amore, C. C., & Ady, J. C. (2016). Hiking. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 12(4), 302–310. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827616658229. Accessed 25 June 2024.
4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Office of dietary supplements - vitamin D. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/. Accessed 25 June 2024.

 

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