The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Sam K White
Trail Name - Turtle 

Hiking for Health

Health, Home & Garden

 

April 26, 2014

There are countless ways of exercising: the gym, walking, swimming, jogging, Jazzercise, Yoga, Tai Chi and the list goes on and on. The basic concept is: eat right and exercise. I know, I have tried so many.

Spring is here, the weather warms and calls me to the trail. I have experienced a ten pound weight loss in four weeks, and my muscle-to-fat ratio has made a dramatic improvement, it feels so good. This little exercise has led to many things, including: a touch with my spiritual side, a deeper enjoyment of the wonders of the natural world, a deeper appreciation of the people and places that I surround myself with on a daily basis, and a deeper awareness of myself.

The exercise? Hiking!

Hiking has a multitude of health benefits. It can be done alone, with friends, or, best yet, can include the entire family. Kids and adults love the outdoors, and the exercise has a salubrious effect for all participating.

Some rewards of hiking include:

– Improved cardio-respiratory fitness (heart, lungs, blood vessels)

– Improved muscular fitness

– Lowered risk of coronary heart disease and stroke

– Lowered risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, triglycerides and colon, breast and lung cancer.

– Increased bone density or a slower loss of density

– Reduced depression and better quality sleep

– Lower risk of early death

– Weight control

– Clarity of mind

– Deeper appreciation of the natural world

End note: I have found since beginning this hiking program, I have experienced all the above, and more.

When hiking I often reflect on the gym, and the exercises done there. I am not a weightlifter, my orientation is toward the circuit and the bike. The bike I set at the steepest angle and steepest resistance, and peddling forward I look through the windows and see the panorama of the high desert scrub pushing south to the base of the Tehachapi Mountains. I think about the time hiking that mountain and it brings wonderful memories. Not a bad mental visual as I pedal the bike, set at a 10 degrees and 100 percent resistance.

When hiking the drama is always changing, and unlike the gym, the degree of steepness and resistance is set by the trail, not by buttons on a machine. On the trail ahead there is a bend or rise, and I wonder what will be observed on passing the obstacle that limits my sight. The magic of the trail provides new landscapes as I voyage. Rambling through the twists, turns, ups and downs of the trail the hillside before me becomes blanketed with a kaleidoscope of colors: Violets, Blues, Purples, Yellows, Whites, and Pinks – a palette of color any artist envies. The trail gives the viewer the opportunity to visit so many galleries, with a multitude of artists, each exciting to the eye and mind. The words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Earth laughs in flowers" are demonstrated at this place and time.

The downside of hiking is that it's not fun when the weather gets too hot, cold, windy, rainy, snowy, so, what does one do? Go to the gym and get in shape to take another hike, When your friend says "Take a Hike", you probably need it, so do it!

 
 

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