Benefits of Hiking vs. Running

wanderer-455338__180Running can be hard on the joints, in fact 6 times your bodyweight is applied to the joints when running. For individuals who want to get up and outside but don’t want as much stress on the body hiking can be a great alternative. Cardio doesn’t have to be running. If you enjoy it, running can be a great way to release stress and work the heart as a muscle, but many of us don’t love the idea of cardio at a runner’s intensity or are simply unable to due to the wear and tear on the joints. Hiking is a great alternative especially in the Santa Cruz Area.

Hiking can also be a great cardio workout without as much wear and tear on the joints. Heading towards hills and walking at a slightly faster pace can get the heart rate elevated and burn ample calories. Hiking can help to work the heart as a muscle just like running and then some!

Tones Everything: Hiking isn’t just a leg workout. As you climb hills and tackle different terrain, more muscles are used to keep the body stable and therefore, getting more of a full body workout than you would with running. When hiking on uneven terrain a lot of core stabilization and balance must be used to prevent a fall. The activation of the stabilizer muscles in the body can increase the metabolism and help to stabilize the joints.

More gentle on your knees: Not only does hiking provide good cardio, and a full body workout, but hiking in a slower pace is actually a lot better for your kness. The constant pounding of running can be hard of some peoples’ knees. WIthout the proper body mechanics and stretching routine running can really harm the joint, whereas walking on soft dirt or grass provides less jarring to the joints.

Connects you with Nature: There’s something really healthy about connecting with Nature. Studies show that being in nature has a ‘grounding effect’ allowing the individual to be less stressed and more at peace. This enhances mood and also can take years off one’s life.
Who doesn’t want to be younger? Get out into the woods, and relax into the hike and be present with the surroundings. Getting perspective on things can make all the difference.

Hiking is a great alternative source to running and can be easier to do with friends of varying fitness levels. It can be a great solo experience or fun with friends as well. Weather it is a stroll on the beach or a gallop through the redwood forests, Santa Cruz has an incredible coastline that can be explored on foot! Try Wilder Ranch, Nisene Marks, Fall Creek, or Henry Cowell for some great spots to adventure and hike!
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