Hiking and Trekking Health Benefits

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Hiking and Trekking Health Benefits plus Grand Canyon Hiking Adventure

Nowadays more and more people are adopting hiking and trekking as a major outdoor event. That’s especially true in America and Europe. Not just in these two countries, but the growing trend of hiking and trekking is also increasing in many other parts of the world. One of the hidden benefits of this trend is you don’t have to travel far for great adventures right near your home.

hiking and Trekking

Depending upon where you live there is almost certainly places nearby where hiking and trekking can be done. For example, I live in Southern California. There are endless places where one could hike or trek yet still be close or relatively close to home. Such an adventure could easily rival spending thousands of dollars flying overseas for essentially the same type of adventure.

What’s the difference between hiking and trekking?

Hiking and trekking are often used interchangeably. So what is the difference? According to Dictionary.com:

hike
verb (used without object), hiked, hik·ing.
to walk or march a great distance, especially through rural areas, for pleasure, exercise, military training, or the like.

On the other hand Merriam-Webster defines :

trek verb
trekked; trekking
Definition of trek
(Entry 1 of 2) intransitive verb
1 : to make one’s way arduously broadly : journey

trek noun
Definition of trek (Entry 2 of 2)
1 : a trip or movement especially when involving difficulties or complex organization : an arduous journey

hiking and trekking

Hiking and Trekking is an Adventure

That’s not saying one or the other is best. But you get the point. Hiking and trekking is an adventure in itself. It’s something almost anyone can enjoy, from kids to older adults. But there’s more to this sport than meets the eye. Have you ever thought, what are the health benefits of hiking and trekking? Are such outdoor events really beneficial for your health? Is hiking or trekking for everyone? Could there be some age restrictions? Does hiking have health benefits? What about psychological benefits from this popular activity?

These are questions which you may be wondering about although most of them are subjective in nature. If someone seeks answer to these questions its hard to pinpoint definitive answers. Especially as far as the degree of benefits are concerned.

woman hikerBut certainly most responses would be positive. Most people would probably say, “Sure, there are many benefits.” No doubt, there are a lot of benefits from hiking and trekking. They could range from preventing heart disease to controlling obesity.

A lot of sports activities require special equipment or training to get started. However, hiking and trekking is relatively much simpler. It is also more beneficial than most other exercises. Practically anyone can put on a pair of shoes along with few necessary gear and equipment. Then start walking into the woods for a little fresh air.  This is called hiking. The scenery, diverse nature, and accessibility of hiking trails make this heart-healthy pastime. It’s attractive for people of all ages, fitness levels, and income brackets. Moreover, except few points, hiking and trekking usually don’t require any special expertise and skills.

girl hiking

Hiking and Trekking is Healthy

Hiking or trekking allows us to maintain our body in good working condition by walking. We all know walking is really good exercise for our bodies. It improves our physical health as well as mental health. The list of benefits from hiking and trekking is great. Hiking is essentially walking and is considered to be one of the most perfect forms of exercise for our bodies. By doing so, you get a chance to spend some quality time with Mother Nature. Walking also helps clear our minds, sort of a mental health antidote. Everyone can find trails to suit their physical strength. Unlike other activities or sports, hiking or trekking is a pursuit that allows people to determine their own limitations.

mt. Mount McKinley hiker

Studies and research findings show that hiking is an excellent way to lose extra pounds and improve overall health. We don’t necessarily need to do heavy and painful workouts to improve overall health. Just a short brisk walk, just a few minutes can be more than sufficient. According to the American Heart Association, it’s best to walk vigorously for 30 to 60 minutes 3-4 times per week. However, even low to moderate intensity walking can have both short and long-term benefits. Similarly, According to Walking for Health, people “won’t find a better way to lose weight than walking.” Such results will be more permanent and pleasurable than any diet or weight loss program.

hiking adventure

There are Multiple Health Benefits in Hiking and Trekking

In December, 2001, the US surgeon general called the increased rate of obesity in the United States an epidemic. The report states that 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese, and the number is increasing year after year. In addition, 13% of children are overweight. The report recommends communities create safe sidewalks or walking trails to encourage physical activity. Not only these, but there are many more research findings that clearly show multiple health benefits of hiking and trekking.

As far as health benefits, the list may go on, consisting of several mental and physical health benefits. You gain benefits such as losing excess pounds, preventing heart disease, and decreasing hypertension or high blood pressure.

Here are even more health benefits from hiking or trekking:

  • Improving and maintaining mental health
  • slowing the aging process
  • relieving back pain
  • preventing osteoporosis
  • preventing and controlling diabetes

hiker

Hiking and Trekking is Healthy for almost Everyone

To sum it up, hiking has many health benefits. The beauty of it is it doesn’t cost you much to enjoy this activity. Moreover, when hiking, you can take other family members with you.  Even your young children can come along with you without much difficulty. Indeed, hiking makes it possible to spend more time with your family and children. For young children, hiking helps improve their physical stamina and team building skills.

Following is a popular hiking destination in the western state of Arizona in the US. The Grand Canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is entirely in northern Arizona and is one of the great tourist attractions in the United States.  Read about it to below to get  more of an idea of a hiking adventure you might want to consider.

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Grand Canyon Hiking is a Popular American Hiking Adventure

To truly experience the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, hiking from the rim to the river can be a rewarding and life-changing adventure. The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States.

Grand Canyon
View from the South Rim. Photo by Roger Bolsius / CC BY-SA 3.0 (Click for large view)

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide. In some places its depth is over a mile (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters).

For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans, who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon a holy site, and made pilgrimages to it.  The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540.

hike Grand Canyon

Almost Everyone can Hike the Grand Canyon

Most relatively fit people can tackle the hike from the canyon rim to the floor of the valley and back up again.  Even the novice hiker can do it. However, make no mistake, it is a tough hike. But you don’t need to be an athlete to complete it successfully.

Although it is possible for an experienced hiker to trek to the bottom and back up the other side in one day, if you have the time available do this. Try to plan your hike over three or more days to make the most of this experience.

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You need to Plan your Hiking Adventure

During the planning stage for your trek you might want to read some of the many books available on Grand Canyon hiking. There are also videos/DVDs available. Any of these resources will begin to give you an idea of which trail you might prefer to take from the rim to the canyon floor and back up again.

A popular idea with hikers is to begin their descent from one rim. Then hike to the floor of the canyon and hike back up on the opposite side.

That particular hike poses a serious problem. That is, where to leave your car; or more importantly, how to get back to your car. For example if you exit the canyon on, say, the south rim, and your car is parked on the north rim, how to handle that situation? The distance from the south rim to the north rim is only about ten miles as the crow flies but it is a 220 mile car trip! Some hikers arrange to swap car keys with a group hiking in the opposite direction. If this option isn’t available to you, there is a shuttle that runs between the two rims.

You can choose a guided Grand Canyon hike or a self-guided hike. If you choose a self-guided hike you must start out with a good map. There are many different maps available.  You’ll want to ensure your map covers the trails you wish to hike, plus the campgrounds.

hiking couple

When is the Best Time to Hike?

First let’s think about when not to go Grand Canyon hiking. June, July and August are scorching hot. Those months should be avoided. The north rim and all its facilities are closed from mid-November through mid-May. Probably the most pleasant time of the year to attempt a Grand Canyon hike is mid May to early June. Also in late September to mid November is ideal. An advantage of trekking in the spring is the presence of many beautiful wildflowers on the canyon floor.

Which Trail to Take?

The only track from the north rim to the canyon floor is the North Kaibab Trail. The trail is approximately 13 miles from the north rim to Bright Angel Campground. That trail descends 5400 feet. There is reliable water available. There is a choice from the south rim. One is the South Kaibab Trail which is 5.6 miles long and descends 4500 feet. However, there is no water available on South Kaibab. Or you could take Bright Angel Trail, which is 9.7 miles in length and descends 4260 feet.  There is reliable water on Bright Angel Trail.

Since there is a lack of water and the steepness of the gradient, South Kaibab is recommended as a descent track rather than a climbing track. For hikers who choose to hike from the south rim to the canyon floor before returning to the south rim, descending via the South Kaibab Trail and climbing out via the Bright Angel Trail is a good option.

backpackers

For Serious Backpacker’s Only

Serious backpackers who are prepared to carry all their gear can stay in any of the campsites.    Gear such as a tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment and food along with their drinking water, extra clothing and toiletries are the typical trekking gear If you’re a hiker who’d like a little more comfort at the end of the day there’s a great place for you. Phantom Ranch, a historic National Park lodge built in the 1920s stands alongside Bright Angel Creek. That’s a tributary of the Colorado River. They serve simple but hearty meals. This is a great place to relax before the climb back to the rim and the conclusion of your Grand Canyon hike.


How to Hike the Grand Canyon – From an Average Hiker/Just the Essentials (South Rim)

by Americas Parks
Published on Youtube on Oct 17, 2018

Join me as I hike the South Rim of the Grand Canyon from the rim to the river and back up to the rim in one day. I’ll show you all the highlights of my hike and the essentials of what you need to know and do.


Are You one of those who will Hike?

Hiking is popular in America. According to Statista the number of participants in hiking in the United States from 2006 to 2017 went from 29.9 million to 44.9 million people. WentHiking.com has a tool for people to keep track of their hiking or trekking miles. it’s a tool for recording your trips into the wilderness and discovering new ones. There are lots of trails for hiking all over the world. Fot information about hiking and trails in America you can download the free PDF by the American Hiking Society.

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