- Reviewed by Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
September is often an ideal time to go hiking, after the crowds, heat, and insects of summer have died down a bit. You can choose a location that suits your abilities, whether that's a tree-lined path near your home or a more challenging trail in a state or national park. And compared with brisk walking, hiking gives you a little more bang for your buck in terms of health-related benefits, says Dr. Luke Apisa, an emergency medicine physician who recently completed a fellowship in wilderness medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
"Hiking on uneven terrain is an efficient way to build muscles in your lower body, which helps improve stability and balance," he says. Hiking uphill works the muscles in your hips and buttocks, while going downhill builds up the quadriceps, the muscles in the fronts of your thighs. Plus, a route that includes some gain in elevation will force your heart to work harder, which boosts cardiovascular fitness without requiring you to jog or run. If you have any joint-related issues in your knees or hips, walking on a trail is far less taxing than running on pavement.
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About the Author
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
About the Reviewer
Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
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