Maintaining muscle function, strengthening immune defense, increasing creativity… Hiking offers many benefits, both physical and physiological.
Whether in the mountains, in the countryside or in the forest, hiking has a multitude of benefits for the body. “First of all, it has an influence on muscle function because, unlike rapid activities where you gain weight, it gently calls on the deep muscles,” explains Faïza Bossy, general practitioner.
Hiking not only maintains muscle function, it also has a positive influence on the skeleton and joints. “It is a physical activity that is recommended for people who suffer from osteoporosis, for example,” says the health professional. Contrary to popular belief, it does not trigger osteoarthritis: it reduces pain and stimulates bone production.”
Another beneficial effect: the intensive practice of walking in nature strengthens the immune defense – a point not to be overlooked at this time, with Covid-19. “It has been shown that the immune system of elderly people who hike tends to increase,” continues Faïza Bossy. They make all their cells work and increase their cardiac activity, therefore their oxygen supply: as the cells are oxygenated, the immune system is improved.”
In addition, as the doctor reminds us, many scientists and emeritus philosophers were known to go hiking. “It oxygenates the brain, it increases cognitive functions and, above all, creativity,” assures the healthcare professional. The fact that the brain is better oxygenated contributes to its proper functioning and even helps to recover after injuries.”
“Walking decreases the risk of developing some form of diabetes by almost 60%”
The benefits of hiking don’t stop there. It also participates in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. “Walking reduces the risk of developing a form of diabetes by nearly 60%, as well as anxiety and depression, develops Faïza Bossy, specifying that this is the third risk factor for heart attack. Hiking also has an effect on blood pressure. ”
At the same time, walking increases respiratory capacity, by promoting inspiration and breathing. “For respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma, going for a walk in a place adapted to its natural condition is very positive”, assures the doctor. Moreover, if hiking does not make you lose weight, it replaces fat with muscle.
An impact on the development of breast cancer and colon cancer
Finally, walking would have an influence on several types of cancer. “In 2010, a team of French researchers showed that hiking would decrease the risk of developing colon cancer”, relates Faïza Bossy. The reason: when you adopt a sedentary position and do not walk, the digestion and waste elimination are less well. “Anything that remains as waste in the colon ferments, and is a risk factor for developing a polyp or colon cancer” “continues the health professional.
Another cancer on which hiking has an impact: breast cancer. “From the moment we walk, we tighten the muscle behind the chest, which allows better support and less risk,” says the doctor. One downside, however: women with a large chest are not not affected by this phenomenon.
Finally, apart from its physiological benefits, Faïza Bossy recommends hiking as a physical activity for children and adolescents. “It’s a way for the family to be together,” she says. Then, we are not in the competition, in an aggressive environment. From a psychological and physical point of view, walking in nature has benefits for the growth of young people. ”