I personally love going for a hike. It does more than calm my nervous or angry self.
It is a common expression and advice to someone who has a stressful situation at hand.
However, more than that, hiking brings about a lot more of benefits.
Why Should You Hike?
It is the best option for those who cannot jog or run for one reason or the other. This cardio activity burns up around 240 calories hourly. With hiking, anyone of any age from any location can maintain the healthy weight requirement. As obesity is highly related to very risky medical problems such as heart diseases, going for a hike is something people should take more seriously.
Not a lot of people know the relationship between physical activities and cancer. This is because the disease is usually pointed out to be caused by other factors. Though, aerobics and other activities that pump up the heart has a positive impact on the body’s susceptibility to cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer, for instance, is decreased by at least 30 percent with a 30-minute aerobic activity for three to five times weekly. Walking and hiking also helps lower the risk of breast, colon, endometrial and lung cancers.
Many studies have been conducted on the relationship between exercising and cancer treatment. It has been found that those who exercise while undergoing as well as after completing treatment have lesser tendency of having the cancer again. Those who still have the cancer yet continue to maintain certain physical activities end up with less fatigue and nausea. Because of certain limitations, hiking is one of the best exercise options for cancer patients and survivors.
Hiking, along with other walking routines, is very valuable when it comes to cardiovascular health. Maintaining a regular hiking routine is proven to be an effective precaution against heart problems and high cholesterol levels that also lead to cardiovascular issues. In addition to that, hiking powers up the good cholesterol lipoprotein that aids in eliminating bad cholesterol from the artery walls.
Top Risks of Hiking
Hand in hand with the positive is the negative. While hiking is beneficial for health in general, it also comes with its own set of risks. Before getting into this activity, it is therefore best to be aware of the possible hazards. This is in order to be prepared for the possible dangers and not be caught off guard. After all, prevention is always better than cure.
Below are the top 5 risks when hiking and how to avoid them:
The hiking area’s natural and physical features
Also referred to as the area’s topography, the arrangement of the area’s features plays one of the major roles in a hiker’s safety. Hiking can be done anywhere one wishes to. However, it is recommended, especially for newbies to stick with trails and paths. This is to avoid unnecessary dangers. Topography includes, but is not limited to, cliffs, elevations, edges and drops as well as rivers and similar water forms.
These are natural elements. In a quick thought, these are views that are supposed to be enjoyed. While that is true, they can also pose a certain amount of danger if proper precaution is not taken. Elevated areas with loose stones, for example, are tricky to go up through, so hikers must avoid running around playfully. Another example is a knee-depth river that seem like a piece of cake to cross because it is shallow. What most common people fail to realize is the power of the water’s current. Without proper mentality, it is also a piece of cake to fall into the waters and be carried by the current into deeper parts of the river.
Prior knowledge of the area and its physical features is the best way to avoid this risk. With this on hand, the hiker can take some tips and advices on how to deal with these topographical factors. Wearing the proper footwear, carrying around the required tool and having the right kind of mindset will keep a hiker safe from this risk.
The weather and climate conditions
This risk category involves both the specific conditions of the local environment on the day of the hike as well as the general average course of the same conditions in the locality. Basically, this is all about the temperature, wind levels and chances of precipitation in the area for the specific day as well as what is expected for the same factors at that time of the year.
While it is romantic to walk in the rain hand in hand with the love of your life, the same cannot be said for hiking through the trails. It is not only a hassle to hike under the pouring rain, but quite dangerous as well. There is the risk of slipping and falling on the damp and wet grounds. The chances of catching a flu or a having fever afterwards also add up to the equation.
To avoid the unnecessary risk of an accident or falling ill due to the weather or climate conditions, it is important to check on these things prior to the hike. If the conditions are manageable, wearing the proper attire like having a raincoat on hand will help. However, it is highly recommended to avoid hiking if the weather is expected to be bad. The benefits are not work the risks involved.
The presence of wild animals
Hiking in national parks is always the safest option. However, some people wish to experience the freedom of the mountains where the wildlife abound. While not all of them are dangerous, they are mostly not so used to the idea of being close to humans. It is inherent to them to be possessive of their habitat, so the chances of getting attacked is always there.
Ample research on the basic to-do in the face of a bear or any other wildlife is a must for any hiker who wish to take it to the mountains and similar areas. It is not always necessary to hurt them. There are, however, certain strategies that can stop them from causing any harm on a hiker without hurting them in the process. This is something that should be studied to avoid the risk of getting hurt or hurting them unless required.
The hiker’s health and fitness condition
The most important element in hiking is the hiker. While all other factors matter, the health situation and fitness level of the hiker can pose some risks when engaged in the activity. Among all the risk categories, this is even the most manageable with proper knowledge and preparation.
It is easy for some people to take their health issues for granted. Asthma, for example, is not completely debilitating. However, there is no way to guarantee against an asthma attack when out in the open and readily accessible to all forms of stimulants. This does not mean someone with asthma cannot go for a hike. It simply means one can carry an inhaler around and have a limitation on the hiking distance to ensure easy access to a medical institution when needed.
The laws of the land
Laws are created to maintain order. They should therefore be noted and duly observed. Public areas are always free for anyone who wish to go hiking. There are also national parks that are designed with trails and set up with clear rules to regulate the visitors and their impact on the natural environment.
Private lands, however, should be respected. Since most of them are located close to publicly accessible areas, some hikers tend to continue as they like. Such areas are not to be entered without due permission as provided by the law. In most cases, there is a signage indicating private properties, but some people still fail to follow through. The end results are legal complications and possible physical harm if assumed to be an intruder with bad intentions.
This is one of the risks that can easily be avoided. Hikers just need to maintain common sense to understand the dos and don’ts, then obey the rules accordingly to avoid any possible harm.