Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 28

RX

NEW RESEARCH: HIKING = HEALTH

From the hips and knees to the
brain and the attitude and lots of
places in between, new research
makes a strong and positive
distinction between just walking
and hiking.
Story and photos by SU CLAUSON-WICKER

28

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

T

A WALK
IN THE
WOODS

he air along the trail feels tender, damp with a licorice scent
of crushed weeds. As my husband, Bruce, and I scramble
over an ancient rockslide, we
spot a slice of the New River
way below us. We climb our favorite section of the Appalachian Trail
up Pearis Mountain for over an hour,
our pulses thudding in our throats. At
the summit, we sprawl across Angel's
Rest rock, feeling we've done something
great for our bodies and our souls.

The latest scientific research agrees-
we are doing something very beneficial
for ourselves when we hike. While trotting the treadmill is good and walking the
neighborhood is better, hiking in nature
is the best exercise for our brains and leg
muscles, some neuroscientists and exercise physiologists say.
Walking and hiking may seem like
the same exercise. Though the scenery
may vary, the body mechanics seem the
same. But they're actually very different.
Research shows that your joints, heart and


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Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020

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