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Hit the Trails for a Hike in Health

By Sara Butler

Chiropractic for Healthy Hikes

A few years ago, I was totally obsessed with watching shows about Mount Everest. Don’t misunderstand me -- I have no desire to conquer anything in which you must enter a literal death zone in order to reach. But I do admire the people who set out to do something so challenging; they must be in awesome shape to take on something that includes a death zone.

Fast forward to today and while I’m nowhere near a mountaineer, I do love a good hike. I happen to live in an area of the country that offers beautiful trails as the perfect excuse to drag my children outside and make them commune with nature. In the most motherly way possible, I often tell them that a healthy body makes for a happy heart and mind -- and I didn’t just make that up! Hiking is one of the best and most economical ways to increase your activity level, so it appeals to both my goal of better health and my penchant to be very cheap. Combine it with chiropractic care and you’ve got one robust combination!

The Health Benefits of Hiking

Hiking gets your blood pumping, which means it’s a great cardio workout that can help to whip your cardiovascular system into shape. This kind of regular exercise can help to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Hiking also happens to qualify as a weight-bearing exercise, which means it helps to improve your bone density and protect you from osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 150 minutes of hiking per week can help to keep your joints flexible and reduce joint stiffness often associated with arthritis. It can also help develop your core.

The positive impact of hiking isn’t limited to the physical either, because it can improve your mood too. Scenic hikes in beautiful areas can help to give you a sense of calm, relieving stress and letting you leave your worries behind. Add in some buddies to make it a social experience and you’ll get an even bigger mood boost!

If hiking is difficult at first, then that’s no big deal. Hiking trails are rated for intensity, so start off easy and bump it up every so often. The more you work at it, the more stamina you’ll have and the stronger your body will grow. Challenge yourself to go just a little farther each week and take on more difficult trails -- you may find you’re hooked on hiking before you know it!

Add Chiropractic Care for Results

Let’s face it, incorporating chiropractic care into your life can help make everything you do better. When your body is free from joint dysfunction and restriction, it can work as it should. When combining chiropractic care with cardio, such as hiking, you’ll reap more rewards from both.

Hiking helps strengthen your muscles while keeping you flexible, and chiropractic care supports this by helping to keep your spine in balance and your joints working as they should. A balanced body won’t exert extra pressure on your muscle groups or joints, helping you to feel better and meet your exercise goals.

Chiropractic care also focuses on total body wellness, so your chiropractor can suggest some diet or lifestyle changes that can help to support your hiking routine. If you happen to get injured, or you’re just sore after a particularly challenging hike, your chiropractor can help you manage the pain and recover more quickly.

A Few Tips to Take for a Great Hike

Hiking, just as any other physical activity, should be done the right way. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the details to keep your hike safe and productive. Avoid problems by remembering to warm up. Before you set out on your hike, make sure to warm those muscles with some simple stretches and movement. This helps reduce your risk of injury.

It’s also important to get the right gear. After all, the foundation of healthy hiking starts with your feet so make good shoes a priority! Look for hiking footwear that fits well and supports the proper movement of your feet and ankles, and provides shock absorption as you walk. You may also want to consider adding poles, especially if balance is an issue. Plus, poles add an upper body workout to your hike!

Perhaps one of the biggest pieces of advice to help you reduce injury is to remember to go slow. You don’t need to kick off your newfound love of hiking by trekking from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu! Don’t start with the toughest trail you can find but instead start slow, adding intensity and time to your hikes slowly but steadily.

Hiking is a great way to get in shape, boost your health, and learn to appreciate the great outdoors. Combine it with chiropractic care and you’ve got a combination that can help you take control of your health to keep you out of the death zone just a little bit longer!

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