Why work out in a fitness center when you can get a great cardio workout while exploring the beauty of the Sonoran Desert? Of all the opportunities for outdoor exercise in the Tucson area, hiking may be the most versatile—and one of the most beneficial.
Residents at Splendido, a Life Plan Community in Oro Valley for those 55 and better, have an opportunity to participate in the community’s hiking club, which goes out together twice a month, November through May.
Led by Splendido’s Spa and Fitness Manager Todd Lutz, the group rotates among a variety of nearby trails with different levels of difficulty. “The nice thing about the group is you get to hike some trails you wouldn’t normally do,” says Splendido resident Clive Probert, who enjoys hiking year-round. “We typically hike for two or three miles, and Todd organizes it so the first hike of each month is on flat terrain, and the next one is more challenging.” Hikes like these provide a multitude of benefits for your body, brain, and mood.
A Walking Workout
Hiking—even on flat land—will exercise muscles including your quadriceps, hamstrings, lower leg and hip muscles. Hiking on an unpaved, slightly uneven trail will also engage the core muscles in your torso. Like any other cardio workout, hiking is good for your cardiorespiratory fitness, as well as sleep quality and weight loss. (A brisk hike can burn up to 550 calories per hour.) And because walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it also helps build bone density.
Step Up to a Better Mood
Todd explains, “Walking is good for your brain, as well as your body. Through simple exercise, your body begins to release proteins and chemicals which can help lower stress levels and have positive benefits on memory.”
Another benefit of hiking is the release of endorphins in your brain. Endorphins are chemicals released in the brain that minimize any physical discomfort, blocking the feeling of pain and causing a natural “feel good” rush.
Hit the Trail, Not the Treadmill
Research shows that taking your exercise outdoors compared to working out in a gym offers unique benefits for physical, cognitive, and emotional health:
Multiple studies have shown that regular exposure to “green areas” can cause our bodies to relax and let go of stress, as well as ease anxiety. One study found that people in nature had slower heart rates and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who spent time in the city.
Walking or exercising outdoors has also been proven to strengthen short-term memory. Simply spending time in nature is also associated with improved concentration and attention spans.
Studies have linked time spent in nature with lower levels of inflammation, reduced hypertension, and even a stronger immune system.
Research found that people who run outside exert more energy than treadmill runners; they also enjoy it more and therefore will run for longer periods of time.
“This is a wonderful area to hike,” says Clive. “You don’t have to drive very far to find a good trail. And Splendido is right next to Honey Bee Canyon, so we can just walk right in. I hike there about once a week.”
Interested in learning more about Splendido? For floor plans, photos, and information on upcoming events, visit splendidotucson.com.