Trekking not only allows for the fresh air in nature, but also for a break from daily life and an educational experience in nature as well! The benefits of trekking are many! Keep reading below to discover more!
Taking into account the continuing Covid-19 restrictions, activities outside the home are limited. The benefits of trekking are many, and trekking is an activity which can be engaged in, in locations both near and far. Nature areas abound, even in mega cities, where there are nature areas for trekking and enjoying the outdoors for the local urban populace.
Benefits of trekking
The benefits of trekking are good for both the body and the mind. It is said that walking is one of the best exercises in the world. Trekking is the ultimate cardio workout, helping to build bone density (as a weight-bearing exercise) and lower one’s risk of heart disease…and it’s free! By reducing the blood pressure and even cortisol levels, there exists a feeling of calmness in the trekker which aids in a mental wellbeing which literally comes from walking in the nature. Trekking is cited to be a total mental and physical experience, as cited in this 2015 research paper from Norway.
Some examples of long-term benefits of trekking include:
As trekking is a cardiovascular workout which uses blood sugar to fuel the muscle activity, the long-term effects of regular trekking can result in weight loss and added muscle tone and definition. Trekking also boosts metabolism and burns those extra calories!
Lower risk of heart-disease
Regular trekking is a contributing factor to lowering blood pressure by approximately 10 points and has the overall effect of improving blood circulation resulting in a lessening of the risks which contribute to heart disease. Research has shown that walking 5 miles / 8 kilometre weekly is enough to aid in the reduction of heart disease.
Studies have shown that indulging in a walk in a forest is enough to reduce cortisol levels in the brain, thus reducing the feeling of stress.
As trekking is a cardio activity and activities which elevate the heart rate for an extended period of time have shown a direct correlation to better and more sound sleep.
An overall improvement in mood
While the trekker is enjoying a deep breathe of crisp, clean air or stopping to enjoy the view, the body releases endorphins which are a hormone the provides the feeling of happiness and contentness.
Sustainable trekking activities
There are many options for sustainable activities to enjoy while trekking.
- Bird watching
Growing in popularity, bird watching is a sustainable activity which can be best enjoyed in nature areas. Watch, take photos, take notes from a distance. One never knows what kind of rare bird can be seen.
- Learning about foragable food items growing in the area
One might be amazed at how much food and herbs grow wild in nature areas. Learning about these foragable plants and their usages can be a valuable education. Usually one is able to learn about these local food bearing plants when utilising the services of a local ranger or nature guide, who is in possession of this abundance of local knowledge.
- Photograph plant life for researching later
Oftentimes, one will notice an unknown beautiful flower, alien-like plant or fruit bearing plant which is so interesting that the thought will not leave the mind until the mystery has been solved. This is best remedied by taking a digital photo of said plant and doing some online cross-referencing research once indoors after the day of trekking.
How to keep your trek sustainable
Trekking itself is a beneficial sustainable activity which can be enjoyed wherever one finds oneself. It is important to remember the saying ‘Take only photos, leave only footprints’ and how that applies to the personal activity, when being sustainable. There are a few recommendations of ways that the trekker can keep the trek sustainable and they are as follows:
- Utilise the services of a local ranger or guide
Having a ranger or local guide accompanying on the trek is always a good idea. Not only can these people share valuable knowledge about the area, animals and plantlife but also the culture and history of the nature area and surrounding areas. This also benefits the community by directing any profit back into the local area.
- Take your rubbish with you
It is advisable to always carry a bag of some sort which can be used to collect and carry rubbish until the proper receptacle is found. More about managing rubbish sustainably can be found by clicking here.
- Generate less rubbish by using reusable containers and bio tableware
Reusable containers for items such as water and food for the trek are becoming ever increasingly popular. Bio tableware is available in shops by the paper goods section, and is recommended for use if taking a meal during the trek.
Things to avoid
While enjoying the benefits of trekking, there are some recommendations of activities that should be avoided. Some examples of these are as follows:
- Touching or removing any fauna or flora
Ecosystems are fragile. The disturbance or removal of plant life is advised against, especially as there are so many endangered and protected plant species. Natural areas are best left as they are and enjoyed by observing.
- Feeding the animals
It can be tempting to share food with the animals, but it is also advised against. Not only are certain foods poisonous to wildlife, but feeding the animals can contribute to a variety of long-term difficulties in the nature areas.
- Going off-track.
This is mainly for one’s own personal safety and to avoid disturbing the wildlife areas.
If you would like to support your local parks or nature areas, it is possible to do so by giving a small donation, usually done by cash donations placed in the donation boxes that are often found around the entrances to the park or nature areas. It is also possible to support these areas without giving money, but instead to help share awareness via social media outlets by sharing a simple photo of your trek there and tagging the park or nature areas pages.
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