Fitness & Nutrition

Hike for Fun, Health, and the Beauty of Nature

October 12, 2020

Hiking is good for your body and mind. It provides weight-bearing cardio exercise that can build bone density while it burns calories, reduces heart-disease risk, and helps manage cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. It can strengthen your core and lower body while it improves your balance. Along with these impressive exercise benefits, hiking also helps reduce stress and anxiety, improves sleep, and boosts creativity by getting you out of your routine and stimulating new ideas.

Solo or family fun

Hiking’s great fun with the family or by yourself. But if you’re new to the trails, bring a walking partner or stay with a group so you have help if something goes wrong. Start with a short, local trail that’s mostly flat, and then gradually work your way toward hilly terrain to boost your heart rate even more and help you burn additional calories.

But for safety’s sake, remember that a hike isn’t a neighborhood stroll. Be sure you’ve reviewed a map and understand the terrain, including marked paths or trails. If storms are moving in, save your outing for another day.

Better than a walk

Hiking on uneven ground isn’t like regular walking because it engages muscles you don’t use on flat terrain, including your core. It’s also easier on your joints than running or jogging, especially when it gets you off the concrete and asphalt of urban outdoor exercise.

Maximize the benefits

Walking poles help you maintain balance and ease pressure on your knees. For an extra workout, carry a backpack and put some weight in it, such as extra containers of water. You’ll build lower-back strength, increase calorie burn, and you’ll never go thirsty.

Find a trail

If you’re looking for a place to start, there’s good news because now is the perfect time of year for it! Fall is upon us here in Indiana and this colorful season makes a trip into nature extra special.

Here are a few destinations that will accommodate beginners and experienced hikers alike.

Clifty Falls State Park

With waterfalls, creek crossings, canyon scenery, and terrain that ranges from easy to very rugged, Clifty Falls State Park offers a host of additional activities and facilities, including campgrounds, a nature center, and even meeting and conference facilities.

Location: Madison, IN

Contact: 812-273-8885

Brown County State Park

Indiana’s largest state park incorporates nearly 16,000 acres of hills, ridges, slopes and gullies, along with some of the best fall foliage anywhere. Trail lengths and levels of difficulty suit hikers from novice to advanced. Like Clifty Falls, Brown County includes an abundance of outdoor activity options, accommodating everything from mountain biking to horseback riders.

Location: Nashville, IN

Contact: 812-988-6406

Hamilton County Parks

Stay local and still enjoy a good hike. Hamilton County features 62 parks with hiking trails and many other options to engage with nature while you stay active.

Location: Central Indiana

Contact: 317-770-4400

With these tips and options for finding great hiking trails, you can be outside, blazing a path through nature, in no time. And if you’re looking for more healthy outdoor activities, check out some of our other posts here at Health Possible!