Hiking for Cardio

Hiking for Cardio

Howling at the Moon

I love the outdoors, and I love 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. As a matter of fact, there are times when I enjoy winter camping and hiking even more than hiking and camping in the warmer months, no mosquitoes and no, … no-seeum black flies.

A few days ago, on the weekend of December 7 and 8, I headed for the mountains, and into the snow. The moon was almost full, and it would be full on the 12th. The December full moon is called the Cold Moon, and cold it was. I love camping during full moons because when the skies are clear, you can see for miles. With a blazing campfire, meat sizzling on my grill, and a cold beverage to stay hydrated, it sure beats a bad movie.

On Sunday evening, the skies were crystal clear, the moon had just broken over the mountain ridge, and my fire was slowly 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, 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 about a foot of snow and I was exhausted. Sitting down next to a warm fire, my meat well secured in my folding 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 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?

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 looked back. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have undoubtedly heard of cardio.

What are the benefits of doing 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 had, free of charge when Hiking!

The simple fact 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.

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

For most of us, we are all very aware of the benefits of cardio exercise to our health and general well being.

How does Hiking fit into this picture?

Hiking has the added benefit of being paired with many interesting and challenging outdoor activities.

I can understand spending 45 minutes on a stationary bike in a gymnasium 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 can be paired 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.

I would love to hear about your hiking adventures and if you use hiking as a method of staying in excellent physical shape.


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