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Health Benefits of Hiking

Oct 02, 2018

Hiking is one of best ways to get healthy and happy.  Research shows many benefits for both mind and body.   With cooling temps and changing colors, fall is a great time to hit the trails.

Besides enjoying nature’s surround sounds and fresh scents, you may boost your brain power and creative thinking. 

The uneven terrain of paths that wind up, down, and sideways, work a variety muscle groups and can help with overall balance.  Hikers report benefits like weight loss, stress relief, better sleep, and more positive thoughts.

New hikers can start out slow and build up with a variety of trails and scenery on Conservation areas, from short walks to more moderate hikes. For safety and company, you can take a buddy or join a hiking club.   Be prepared and stay hydrated to enjoy healthy and happy trails. Explore hiking on MDC Conservation areas.  Go on a hike in the Irish Wilderness part of the Ozark trail in the video below.

Take a Hike!

There are so many health benefits of hiking. Time Magazine takes a closer look.

  • Research shows that your joints, heart and muscles perform in distinct ways during a hike compared to what they do during a jaunt around the block.
  • When you walk on uneven terrain, your heart rate and metabolic rate go up, and you burn more calories.
  • Hiking on uneven terrain increases the amount of energy your body uses by 28% compared to walking on flat ground.
  • Navigating uneven ground, whether you’re hiking or trail-running, recruits different muscles than you would use on flat, man-made surfaces.
  • Time spent in natural environments, as opposed to busy city settings, calmed activity in a part of the brain that research has linked to mental illness.

Finding Wild Missouri: Hiking in the Ozarks

Explore the Ozark Trail in this video from MDC and Orr Street Productions
Explore the Ozark Trail in this video from MDC and Orr Street Productions

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