Hiking for Cardio

Hiking for Cardio

Howling at the Moon

Hiking for Cardio
mountain lion

I enjoy my time spent outdoors, and one of the many reasons for this is my love for hiking and camping.

I don’t take the winter months off, like some of my wimpy friends, … just kidding, … they’re not all wimps, only the wimpy ones are. Truth be told, there are times when I enjoy winter camping and hiking even more so than hiking and camping in the warmer months, … no mosquitoes, and no, … no-seeum black flies.

Last winter, on the weekend of December 7 and 8, I headed for the mountains, and into the land of ice and snow. The moon was almost full, and it would be full on the 12th. The December full moon is called the Cold Moon or the Wolf Moon, depending on whom you ask.

I was prepared for the cold, and cold it was. Mother Nature did not disappoint. Hiking up and down the hills and valleys on a sunny winter day is refreshing, and gets you all warmed up very quickly, but when the sun slips behind the mountain ridges, it gets cold fast. I got my fire going, my meat ready, and a beverage in hand, to make sure I stayed well hydrated.

I love camping during full moons because when the skies are clear, the moon lights it all up, and you can see for miles. With a blazing campfire, meat sizzling on my grill, and a hot or cold beverage in hand, it sure beats a bad movie.

On this wintery Sunday evening, the skies were crystal clear, the moon had just broken over the mountain tops, and my fire was beginning its dance for the full moon. As I settled down into my folding chair, there was almost a foot of snow on the ground, at my feet, and I could hear a few coyotes, in the distance, howling at the moon. I couldn’t tell exactly how many there were, but it sounded like 3 or 4 to me.

I had been hiking all day in a foot or more of snow, and I was exhausted. Sitting down next to a warm fire, with my meat well secured in my folded meat rack, these howling coyotes, were the icing on the cake.

What was I Thinking? What was I doing on a mountain, in a foot of snow, by a roaring fire, listening to a pack of coyotes howling at the moon?

Well, I tell my friends that I hike for the cardio. The truth of the matter is that I hike because I enjoy hiking, the cardio is kind of a bonus that comes along for the hike.

What is Cardio?

Hiking for Cardio
nature’s artwork

What is cardio and why should anyone care about it?

In the 1960’s, Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, of Aerobics fame, conducted the first extensive research on aerobic exercise on over 5,000 U.S. Air Force personnel. This was the beginnings of “cardio” as we know it today. In those days it was called, Aerobic Exercise.

Aerobic means, “relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen.

This was the first introduction of the strong heart and strong lungs revolution. Prior to this period, most people exercised primarily to get stronger muscles. This became known as cardiovascular exercise. Hence, the word, cardio!

People began to jog, run, swim, cycle, and walk themselves into shape. This system of exercising quickly gained popularity, and has never really looked back, or lost any of its appeal. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have undoubtedly heard of cardio.

What are the Benefits of  Hiking for Cardio?

Regular Aerobic exercise will brings these benefits into your life. It will …

  • strengthen the muscles involved in respiration
  • strengthen and enlarge the heart muscle to improve its pumping efficiency
  • lower your resting heart rate
  • improve your blood circulation
  • reduce your blood pressure
  • increase the number of red blood cells and improve oxygen transport
  • improve mental health
  • reduce stress
  • reduce depression
  • lower the risk of diabetes
  • lower and manage bodyweight
  • and the list goes on …

All these benefits can be all be had, … free of charge when you begin Hiking for Cardio!

The simple science behind this is, that better blood circulation, and better oxygen transport throughout the body does wonders for our overall health and well being. This has been proven time and again, by numerous medical studies, and by the simple act of participating in any of these cardiovascular exercises, for sufficient periods of time.

Medical Studies, such as the Fox and Haskell formula and VO2 max , can explain this in better scientific detail.

You don’t need to be a scientist to notice the benefits of cardio exercise to your health and general well being.

How Does Hiking Fit into this Picture?

Hiking for Cardio

Hiking is one of the best cardio exercises out there. No complicated equipment required to get started, except good footwear and comfortable clothing.  It has the added benefit of being easily paired with many interesting and challenging outdoor activities.

I can understand spending 45 minutes on a stationary bike indoors, on an icy, windblown winter morning, or a morning swim at the local pool, but hiking up a mountain to a lake, and overlooking the valley below, is a different kettle of fish.

Next time you feel a need to improve your cardio, lose a few pounds, or get into better shape, consider hiking as an option.

Hiking is fits well with backpacking, camping, fishing, hunting, and photography.

As a matter of fact, all the walking you do is a form of hiking, just kick it up a notch, and you are now hiking.

More Thoughts on Hiking

Hiking for Cardio
not a sound could be heard

Hiking is like a good cup of coffee in the morning, … you don’t really need a good reason to simply enjoy the aromas, or the scenery.

As I age, I am becoming more ruthless in my efforts to simplify my life.

I keep things simple, despite all the hustle and bustle. Hiking is a an activity that I have continued and nurtured over the years.

Its simplicity and health benefits have proven their worth time and again. Anything under an hour, is a walk, over an hour, I call it a hike.

I would love to hear about your hiking adventures, and whether or not, you use hiking as a method of staying in excellent physical shape. You can Contact Me at this link, with your stories of exercise and adventure.

Happy Trails!


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