Hiking With Diabetes: 5 Key Health Benefits!
Hiking is good for physical and mental health — and can also be a great way to help prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes. In fact, incorporating some hiking into your lifestyle is uniquely beneficial given the events of 2020.
So, in honor of National Hiking Day, here are key health benefits and hiking tips for Type 2’s:
#1 - Helps Promote Weight Management
Did you know: just one hour of hiking can burn up to 500 calories?
Hiking is an excellent all-in-one exercise. It's a form of cardio, but it is also a weight-bearing exercise, which builds muscle mass and definition while burning calories.
Additionally, studies show that a person that walks or hikes regularly will see more weight loss than those who don’t.
Type 2’s should try to stay as active as possible. And for those who don’t exercise at all yet, it’s a good idea to start slow with some easy but daily exercise, then slowly increasing the length, frequency, and intensity.
Start with 20 minutes a day of brisk walking, and work your way up from there. If you do, it’ll help improve your insulin sensitivity, and even more importantly, you’ll be in a way better mood! Wouldn’t you call that a win/win situation?
#2 - Boosts Happiness & Mood Levels
Did you know that hiking can help maintain and even strengthen mental health?
Mental health is just as important as caring for the physical body. Especially this year, it’s incredibly important to get away from the computer screen, get some fresh air, and explore nature. Hiking helps you relieve tension, stress, and anxiety through the natural release of endorphins, like serotonin, in the body.
Additionally, hiking can be a great social activity, and can still be enjoyed while social distancing.
After several months of more isolation and less exercise than usual, why not enjoy a hiking “date” with a small group of close friends? Not only will it strengthen your relationship with them, but setting frequent times to go hiking together will give everyone something to look forward to!
Besides that, being social and spending time with friends can increase mood levels and happiness, while spending too much time alone has been scientifically proven to increase the risk of a number of health conditions and even impact longevity.
#3 - Increases Bone Density & Joint Health
Most don’t realize it, but regular exercise can help your bones build up a tolerance to impacts and strengthens them. This is important especially as time goes by.
Moreover, for those who have osteoporosis or arthritis, hiking can be a great way to help. When you are hiking your body increases its blood flow and circulation. Your body can therefore push oxygen more easily through the joints, which acts to reduce inflammation and help ease aches.
Last, who doesn’t need to get outside a little bit right now? The sun is an excellent natural form of vitamin D. So getting outside to do some hiking can be key to keep bones strong, and healthy.
# 4 - Improves Sleep Quality & Duration
Hiking can allow you to fall asleep earlier, stay asleep throughout the night, and wake up feeling more refreshed. Hiking can improve sleep by reducing stress, and promoting a healthy circadian rhythm.
#5 - Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
It’s possible to reduce both high blood pressure and cholesterol through frequent hikes!
Special Hiking Tips For Type 2’s
Now that you know the health benefits, here are some special hiking tips for Type 2s:
To stay on the safe side, for those Type 2s out there when you hike, bring your medications and some glucose tablets with you and pack them in separate water-safe bags. If one is lost, then you don’t have to worry! You can make use of the other one instead of ending the hike early.
While most insulin can be removed from the refrigerator and stored at room temperature safely for about 30 days; when you camp, insulin might get very warm. Take this into consideration if you are insulin dependent, and if you’re hiking somewhere warmer, consider keeping insulin pens in a small cooler.
Try to keep your insulin supply in an easy-to-access place. For example, this may be a pocket in your backpack. Being active can increase the likelihood of lower blood glucose levels, so a quick sugar fix may be needed.
Lastly, make sure to pack the right food. Bring low Glycemic Index (GI) foods like nuts, oatmeal, meats, dried, and fresh fruits. Only bring energy bars as a treat, and make sure they aren’t packed with sugar if you’re considering eating one.
Having healthy food and insulin close by is important — so don’t pack them in the bottom of your sack! It might make a difference with your health and your trip.
If you are able to hike safely on National Hiking Day, we want to encourage you to share your experience in the "Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together" Facebook group by simply clicking here.
Happy Hiking from the CuraLin family!
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