Water hikes are a lesser known form of cardio exercise but still an extremely challenging and fun activity. This workout involves going out into nature at a low-depth waterway such as rivers or lakes, submerging yourself no higher than the waist, and hiking through the water. This is an extremely versatile and fun workout, which can be performed for as long as you want and as fast as you want.
Here are the top 10 benefits of water hiking.
- Cardio workout – Water hiking gets you moving and gets your blood pumping through your whole body. As you push yourself through the current, your heart rate jumps, exercising your heart and pumping blood throughout your body!
- Burns calories – As you wade through the water, your body spends the energy you have fed it in the form of calories. Burning more calories than you eat (in moderation, of course!) can help you lose weight as calories – known as energy – is often stored as fat.
- Resistance workout – Of course, water is much thicker than air, and because of this, navigating through it requires a lot of energy and strength. The leg muscles get quite the workout during a water hike, especially if the water is quite deep and the current strong. The deeper the water and the faster the current, the greater the pressure. With every stride you make, your force the muscles in your legs and core to contract, ensuring you remain balanced and steadfast. By moving through water, you’ve combined both cardio and strength workouts into one!
- Cooling effect – Water hikes are often less tiring than land hikes because the body does not get heated as quickly. Water heats up in the sun much slower than air does, leaving water cool and refreshing even on the hottest of summer days.
- Endurance – Like any workout, the longer you go each time, the more your endurance is built up. As endurance levels increase, so does the length of time you can exercise before fatigue sets in. This makes working out more fun and less taxing. Having a high endurance level can also be beneficial for long-term health and fitness. A study conducted in 2000 found that high-endurance physical activities increase aerobic capacity and antioxidant activity in red blood, meaning you can work harder and longer during a workout.
- Fresh air – Out in nature, the air is much cleaner, as it has not been exposed to all of the toxins and pollution of human habitation. Filling your lungs with fresh air cleanses your respiratory system and allows you to breathe out the toxins of city life. Your cleaner respiratory system, now acting more efficiently, will oxygenate your body and leave you feeling more energized. Additionally, a joint study conducted by the USDA Forest Service and the Davey Institute in 2014 revealed that inhaling forest air after exposure to polluted air reduces instances of illness and death due to respiratory disease.
- Social activity- There is no age restriction to water hikes, and they can be enjoyed by the whole family or by groups of friends as a bonding experience! Children can learn to love to exercise through the fun of watching minnows speed by or spotting animals like birds and turtles. People of all ages can enjoy the refreshing, cool water, moving at whatever speed they choose. It has been proven that regular positive social interaction has mental health benefits.
- Mental workout – Often waterways have many rocks and plants to navigate around as you travel through them. As you water hike, you exercise your brain using problem-solving and decision-making skills at the same time as you exercise your muscles.
- Nature appreciation – An appreciation for the natural world makes you more likely to get back out there and reap the benefits of being immersed it. While on your water hike, you will notice the beauty in the ripples of the water and the reflections of the trees around the river or lake. When you pay attention to the experience that makes you happy, you will repeat the experience later, breathing in more fresh air and exercising your body more.
- Expand your mind – When you experience new, fun workouts like water hiking it expands your mind to the point that you see potential workouts everywhere you go. If a river can be a source of a really cool workout, anything can! Time to get creative with your exercising so you never get bored!
To see more of our top 10 health benefits, click here!