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How Healthy is Hiking?

You know the saying “fresh air is good for you”? Well, it’s true. Getting outside in the great outdoors is good for your health, both mentally and physically. Your body will reap major benefits from hiking. Next time you’re going for a hike, remember how you’re doing your body good by taking your health to a new height.

 

Reduces Risk of Disease

 

Physical activity improves your overall health and quality of life. Therefore, hiking also improves your health. Hiking can lower your risk of diseases , like heart disease, strokes, anxiety, and diabetes. While you’re in the fresh air, you’re also doing your body a favor. Because hiking elevates your heart rate for the entire duration of your excursion, it keeps your heart healthy.

 

Tones Muscle

 

Like any other physical activity, hiking tones your muscles. Hiking is a weight-bearing activity that forces your muscles to push. The higher you go in elevation, the more your muscles work to get there. Hiking also strengthens your core, because your body attempts to balance as it climbs. It not only works your core, but your legs as well. For a full-body workout, you can also work your arms by using a walking stick or hiking poles.

 

Improves Sleep Quality

 

As you burn calories and engage in the fitness activity of hiking, you’re putting your body to work. When your body works hard, it makes it easier for your body to want sleep. This means that after hiking during the day, it will be easier to fall asleep at night. Getting a good night of sleep is good for your health because it not only improves your mood, but it helps you maintain your weight and heart as well.

 

Reduces Depression

 

Physical activity has been linked with boosting your mood. When you hike, your body is releasing “feel-good” endorphins that make you feel happy. Therefore, hiking has been found to reduce depression. The scenic views of hiking are a great bonus to getting physical activity, rather than surrounding yourself by the four walls of a gym. Through hiking, you can elevate your mood while you elevate your location.
Hiking is a great way to get outside and enjoy fresh air. While you’re taking the time to hike, you’re also taking time to benefit your body. Keeping your body in a healthy shape is key to maintaining a higher quality of life.

5 Best Hiking Trails Around the World

While the majority of this site focuses on North Carolina’s great outdoors, I appreciate all outdoor spaces and environments. That being said, I figured it would be nice to take a look at some hiking trails that the rest of the world has to offer. This list ranges from the scorching deserts of Israel to the frozen landscapes of Nepal, so hopefully there is a trail on the list that peaks your interest.

 

Seoraksan National Park-Seoraksan, South Korea

Located in the countryside of the Gangwon Province, this national park is a cornucopia of flora and fauna. The park features over 2,000 species of animal and 1,400 different species of plant. Not only that, but the park also spans through the cities of Sokcho, Inje, Goseon and Yangyang.

 

The trail itself features hot springs, valleys full of flowers and gorgeous waterfalls. The trail even includes a view of Jujeongol Valley, which leads to the Seongguksa Temple. And for those looking for higher altitudes, the trail climbs up Daecheongbong which is the third highest peak in Korea.

 

Israel National Trail-Dan to Eilat, Israel

This trail is definitely not for the faint of heart. Spanning the entirety of the country of Israel, from Dan to Eilat, the Israel National Trail is approximately 620 miles long. For those seeking a more spiritual journey, the Israel National Trail is perfect, as it runs through several biblical sites including: the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee. The trail even features a “Jesus Trail” which runs from Nazareth to Capernaum. And if that isn’t enough, the trail is famous for its trail angels, Israelis who live along the trail that invite hikers into their homes for food and rest.

 

Everest Base Camp Trek-Kathmandu, Nepal

One of the hiking world’s most sought after prizes: climbing Mt. Everest. Climbing the astronomically tall, 29,029 foot high mountain is, as history suggests, no easy task. However, simply climbing to Everest’s base is no small feat either. That is why many choose to simply make the 17,590 foot hike. The hike begins and ends in Kathmandu, Nepal and last two weeks. Hikers can enjoy the culture of the local sherpas and learn about ancient Tibetan Buddhism through mani stones.  

 

Inca Trail-Cusco, Peru

Past the thick jungles of Peru, lies the Inca Trail. The trail, which lasts about four days, starts in Cusco and ends in Machu Picchu. In Cusco, hikers tour the Andean peaks, and afterwards, in Machu Picchu, hikers are able to witness the city left behind by the Incas, full of stone temples and palaces. Hikers also get to visit “The Town in the Clouds”, also known as Phuyupatamarca.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc-France, Italy and Switzerland

This 104-mile journey features breathtaking snow-capped mountains, glassy blue lakes and an abundance of greenery. The trail goes through three different countries: Italy, France and Switzerland. While trekking through Italy, hikers can experience the Aosta Valley, including some of the highest peaks in the Alps. The piece of the trail running through France passes by the famous Church of Notre Dame. For anyone looking to experience some of the most gorgeous natural and man-made structures on earth, look no further than the Tour du Mont Blanc.

10 OUTDOORS ACTIVITIES IN NORTH CAROLINA

“From the mountains to the woodlands to the coast, family experiences unfold on a variety of landscapes,” says Suzanne Brown, media relations specialist for VisitNC. “We are also a state with a full range of seasons, so there’s a variety of things to do all year.”

With so many options, finding the perfect destination for your next vacation or day trip can be a difficult decision. So to help, here are my top picks of fun outdoors activities to do in North Carolina:

See the wild horses along North Carolina’s coast.

North Carolina’s coast is home to several groups of wild horses: Corolla’s Wild Spanish mustangs; Beaufort’s wild horses at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve, Quarter horses, Shackleford Banks’ wild Banker horses; and Ocracoke’s Banker horses. In general, you can see the horses for free. All you need to see the horses in Corolla is a four-wheel drive vehicle so you can drive on the beach. Don’t have one? Several businesses offer four-wheel-drive guided tours.

Watch the sunset on top of Jockey’s Ridge.

There are very few spots in North Carolina where you can watch the sun set into a large body of water, but Jockey’s Ridge State Park is one of them. Through its popular Sunset on the Ridge summer program, you can climb to the top of the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern U.S. and watch the sun descend into the Roanoke Sound with the Atlantic Ocean behind you.

Take a plunge down Sliding Rock.

What could be more fun than a natural water slide?! Beat the heat this summer in North Carolina’s cool mountain water. Sliding Rock is a 60-foot natural waterfall/rock slide. At the base, there’s a 6-foot-deep pool for a refreshing splash at the end of your exhilarating slide.

See a bald eagle at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area.

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area has the largest population of bald eagles in the eastern U.S., and the best time to see one is during the spring migration (April-June). Arrive early morning or near dusk to increase your chances of spotting America’s national bird and find a location that gives you a wide view of the lake. Don’t forget your binoculars!

Admire the blue ghost fireflies in DuPont State Recreational Forest.

Chasing backyard fireflies at dusk is a favorite childhood activity, but you’ve probably never seen fireflies quite like these. Instead of a yellow glow, the blue ghost fireflies of Transylvania and Henderson counties emit a steady blue glow along the forest floor. The eerie light show is only about four weeks long starting in May and disappearing by mid-June. Check the Friends of DuPont State Forest website or call for information about occasional guided tours.

Climb to the top of Hatteras Lighthouse.

It’s a pretty steep climb with 257 steps, but you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views from the top of the tallest brick lighthouse in North America. You’ll also have a great view of the lighthouse’s previous home before it was relocated in 1999. The self-guided climb is not recommended for young children because of narrow stairs and only one handrail on one side.

Cross the Mile-High Swinging Bridge.

Named for its elevation, the Mile-High Swinging Bridge spans an 80-foot chasm. Originally built in 1952, the bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using galvanized steel for the cables, rails and floor boards. While there, visit the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum, the 11 hiking trails and the seven wildlife habitats to see different animals such as deer, bald eagles, bears and more!

Visit the site of the first U.S. gold rush.

When you think of a gold rush, California immediately comes to mind, but you might be surprised to learn that the first gold rush in the U.S. actually occurred in North Carolina. NC state also led in gold production until 1848. Reed Gold Mine is now a historic site open for tours.

Climb to the top of Chimney Rock.

Take an elevator or make the strenuous climb up 26 stories of stairs to reach the iconic monolith, which is 535 million years old. From the top, enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.

While exploring the park, kids will love the discovery stations on the Great Woodland Adventure, an easy .6-mile hike to discover the lives of frogs, owls, chipmunks and more. Also, don’t miss Grady’s Animal Discovery Den with live animals, and make sure the kids visit Hickory Nut Falls, the second-highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

Visit one of Blackbeard’s favorite islands.

While on the island of Ocracoke, visit Teach’s Hole, a channel named for Edward Teach, the infamous pirate known as Blackbeard. Ocracoke was one of his favorite spots to drop anchor, and it’s also where he lost his life in a fierce battle. Young pirate fans will enjoy the Teach’s Hole “Blackbeard” exhibit and Pirate Specialty Shop.

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