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5 Advantages of Hiking Over Spinning on the Peloton

By Chris Brown

Riding stationary bikes, or spinning, became an increasingly popular exercise during the indoor regulations of the COVID pandemic. Companies, like Peloton, pushed the benefits of spin classes that could be undertaken from the convenience of one's living room. But through the commercials, many neglected to think of another pandemic-safe, and less expensive, exercise -- hiking. In many ways, hiking can be more beneficial than those flashy spin bike courses.

Hiking can be a more complete body exercise - A major criticism of spin is that it only works the lower body and cardio. While some upper muscle groups can be activated by raising the body off the seat, the arm and chest workout is minimal. Hiking challenges more muscle groups than just legs, such as stabilizing muscles (like the hips), abdomen, and arms (if you add trekking poles). Also, hiking, as a weight bearing exercise, increases bone density and improves balance.

Spin is a literal pain in the back - While spinning's leg and cardiovascular workout is excellent, riders' bent postures can lead to back pain and neck issues. In hiking, people tend to stand upright with a natural neck and back position. This can help reduce the C2-C5 disc compression of tech neck that modern workers, and spinning riders, struggle to manage.

Being outside boosts your mood - While jumping on the indoor spin bike is convenient, you miss out on an opportunity to indulge in the outdoors' mood boosting benefits. Not only does the sun provide a natural chemical of happiness, Vitamin D, nature itself can improve one's outlook. A 2020 Cornell study found that just 10 minutes in a natural environment reduced both physical and mental stress levels. So go for a quick nature hike, rather than an indoor ride, if you're feeling down.

Hiking avoids burnout, but also requires you to exercise - Since spin classes are built around bursts of sweaty exercise, they are also prone to the extremes of burnout or early quitting. Burnout works negatively against muscle growth and occurs when an exercise is well beyond one's fitness level. Hiking avoids this as it is conducive to breaks. Hikes also force the hiker to walk back to their starting point, typically, which makes them complete the exercise. To exit from spin, you simply have to step off the bike into your living room, so the convenience can make some prone to lazy half-workouts.

Specialized spin injury risk: Rhabdomyolysis - You may have never heard of rhabdomyolysis because most would never remember if they did. However, this muscle injury is becoming increasingly common thanks to the popularity of spin programs. Rhabdomyolysis occurs from overworking large muscles (like the quadriceps) too quickly and causing oxygen starvation. Most of the time this injury resolves itself; however, in some cases, it can lead to cardiac arrest and a breakdown of the muscle tissue. Hiking involves less immediate intensity, which lets large muscles warm up.

While hiking is an excellent exercise, it does come with dangers not present in your living room spin class. Becoming lost and dehydrated is a major concern, but animal attacks or poison ivy or oak can also cause injury. So be careful to get the most from the excellent exercise of a hike.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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