The Benefits of Hiking
"The nice thing about hiking is that it works for nearly everyone, from a gentle walk on a flat path to mountain climbing,” says James Benoit, MD. Regardless of age or ability, you can find a hike that offers the right level of personal challenge. And hiking may even offer some unique physical and mental benefits, he says.
Brisk walking or hiking is a good way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, particularly if your route includes some hills, which will force your heart to work harder. Taking a hike on the slightly uneven surface of a trail also provides a natural way to engage the core muscles in your torso and to hone your balance. “You usually don’t get that type of lateral motion from walking on a treadmill or riding a bike,” says Dr. Benoit, a family medicine physician with Providence St. Jude Heritage Medical Group.
However, if you have problems with stability or vision, using walking or trekking poles can give you an added level of security on uneven terrain. Use poles with a spiked metal tip when walking on dirt or grass. Plant the pole out in front of you as you walk to take a little pressure off your knee joints.
Another benefit of hiking may be the restorative and stress-relieving powers of being outside in nature. A number of small studies hint that spending time in green space—nature preserves and parks—may ease your stress levels. Given the growing consensus that stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease risk, anything you can do to mitigate stress is likely helpful. “I’m passionate about hiking,” says Dr. Benoit. “There’s a sense of peace and composure you get from being outside.”
Looking for a great hike?
Get started by going to alltrails.com to explore hikes close to you.
Fullerton Loop Trail
Length: 11.2 MI Elevation Gain: 885 FT Route: Loop
This is a unique mix of 85% dirt single- and double-track trails with 15% sidewalk/asphalt riding. The trail is a patchwork of old equestrian paths that run along property lines and an old railroad bed corridor. Almost like a video game, there are features hidden all along its length that beg for exploration.
The most accessible portion of the trail is the paved section in the first approximately 0.7 miles when going counterclockwise. The majority of the trail is estimated to be in the mostly gentle (5% or less) grade category, but there are steeper sections. Trail-goers using wheelchairs/mobility equipment or strollers may need assistance in the steeper sections or to avoid them for safety. All-terrain tires or motorized equipment may be needed for the surface type and grade past 0.7 miles.
Olinda Oil Museum Trail
Length: 2.0 MI Elevation Gain: 390 FT Route: Loop
Enjoy this 2.0-mile loop trail near Brea. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 59 minutes to complete. This is a very popular area for hiking and running, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime.
Yorba Linda, CA
Length: 1.5 MI Elevation Gain: 59 FT Route: Loop
Experience this 1.5-mile loop trail near Yorba Linda. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 29 minutes to complete. This is a very popular area for hiking, running and walking, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime.
Tri-City Park Loop
Length: 0.8 MI Elevation Gain: 32 FT Route: Loop
Try this 0.8-mile loop trail near Placentia. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 15 minutes to complete. This
is a very popular area for birding, fishing and running, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime.
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