BENEFITS OF HIKING ON YOUR BODY (PLUS OTHER TIPS!)
- Reduces the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.~
According to SingHealth, those aged above 65 are at a higher risk of osteoporosis, 1.5 times for males VS 5 times in females.
- Lower the risk of heart attack/ stroke due to high cholesterol levels.~
A 2010 National Health Survey claims that more than half of adults in Singapore have high cholesterol, increasing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.
- Maintenance of your muscle mass.~
An article from The Straits Times states that people in 40s start losing muscle mass at ~7% and effects includes less strength and feeling tired more easily.
- General improvement in your immune system.
- Improved control over management of weight.
- Strengthening core and muscles all over body.
- Lowering blood pressure.
- Increase in flexibility and body coordination.
- Improve sleep quality.
- Reduces the risk of various cancers.
It is no secret that Singapore is a fast-paced society, and many fail to understand the need to slow down to go fast.~
However, thanks to her 'Garden City' vision, there is no lack of nature parks and gardens for those in Singapore hoping to fully immerse in a destressing hike amidst nature.~
In fact, studies have proven that simply being in nature may have tangible benefits on your overall mood and well-being.
Hiking is not a race, feel free to go at your own pace!
While boosting a list of amazing benefits, it is also important to understand what hiking does to your body to prevent any mishaps (which are often uncalled for) :
Compared to walking on a flat surface, hiking places twice as much pressure on your joints. This is because stepping on natural surfaces and uneven terrains causes instability in the foot and ankle, creating huge strains on the joints and muscles of the legs and upper body. In turn, more muscle activity is required for rebalancing and support.~
Thus, it is important to ensure that you are carrying a backpack which is suitable for your hike i.e. not one that is too big which will carry too much unnecessary weight, nor too small where you will not be able to fit all your essentials.~
Here’s a rough rule of thumb on picking your backpack volume!~
- Half-day hike: 10L - 30L~
- Weekend hike (1- 3 nights): 40L - 50L~
- Multi-day hiking trip (3 - 5 nights): 50L - 70L~
- Expedition (> 5 nights): 80L - 110L or more
Some simple precautions can be taken to improve stability as well as prevent any unwanted injuries. Be mindful of the steps you take, and place your feet down carefully — landing heavily can irritate the knee joints and cause bursitis or mild arthritis.~
Instead of walking straight down a slope, embark on a "zigzag" route instead to make it easier on your joints. If required, grab onto nearby trees and branches for support.~
Go for hiking shoes half or one size larger than your usual size. Due to the unpredictable weather in Singapore, waterproof hiking shoes/boots offering a good grip are highly recommended. Make sure the insoles are comfortable and also have adequate cushioning to absorb impact while hiking downhill.
In short, the answer depends on the weight of your backpack as well as the surface and terrain of the hiking trail you are embarking on.~
With a backpack of more than 40L, it is primordial to use hiking poles!~
Moreover, if used correctly, hiking poles are helpful in cushioning the shock on your joints by reducing the impact of walking on knees, especially when going downhill. In fact, it distributes physical effort between your arms and legs, allowing for a more balanced whole body workout.~
Last but not least, falls can be prevented thanks to its ability to improve balance.~
Hiking poles can double up as multi-purpose items that can be used to pitch tarps/shelters and clear out dense vegetation along off the beaten paths too!
AS WITH ALL SPORTS, IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR YOU TO GO ON 30 MINUTES HIKES THREE TIMES PER WEEK IN ORDER TO REAP ITS HEALTH BENEFITS. BEAR IN MIND THAT HIKING IS AN ENDURANCE ACTIVITY THAT CAN BE ADAPTED TO EVERYONE'S ABILITY – FEEL FREE TO FINE-TUNE YOUR HIKES TO YOUR FITNESS LEVEL! ⛰️ HIKE MORE, WORRY LESS ⛰️ - WRITTEN BY SNG YING, DIGITAL SPORTS LEADER FOR HIKING/TREKKING