Take a Hike!

by: Evan Small


Gym Memberships. These two words are known for making muscles, bank accounts and schedules sore. Although mostly seen as a convenient resource for exercise, other FREE alternatives for even high volume exercise are often overlooked. Summer is fast approaching and with vacations often centered around cooler air and the mountains, plan a hike into your next trip!



Initially, the thought of hiking brings images such as the one above to mind. The benefits of hiking on the human body are nearly immeasurable however there are some common benefits worth noting:

  • Cost Effective
  • Decreased Blood Pressure
  • Decreased Stress Levels
  • Enhanced Immune System Functioning
  • Restored Attention
  • Increased Overall Wellness

Although Hiking is often seen as an experience instead of exercise, one jaunt out into the hills will show your legs otherwise, HIKING IS TOUCH!! Many opportunities exist in the Edmond metro or within one day’s drive most of which being free of charge and offer short and long distance hiking. Hiking can burn around 450 calories per hour, which is a desirable trait for many exercisers!

Local Trails Include:

Mitch Park Edmond, OK Paved/Trail 1.8-2.8 Miles
Hafer Park Edmond, OK Paved 1.7 Miles
Bluff Creek Oklahoma City, OK Paved/Trail 3.4 Mile Loop
Wichita Mountains Lawton, OK Trail .5-5.7 Miles

hiking 2

 Hiking specifically works muscles in your legs such as your gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hamstrings, hips and lower legs. Although not a full body workout, hiking could easily substitute a day at the gym! Benefits are not subject to adults only. Hiking is a great way to get kids to exercise; even when they don’t know they’re exercising!

 However, possibly the most important benefit of hiking has to do with mental health of the individuals whom participate in hiking. Cortisol is a hormone that is release when your body goes into the “fight or flight” mode. High levels of cortisol in the blood have been correlated with high/chronic stress levels. Research has shown that walking in different environments can reduce cortisol levels. Along with hiking in new environments, meditating and/or taking in pretty scenery has also shown to decrease cortisol levels and in turn makes you less stressed!!

 So there you have it. Help yourself improve overall health… and TAKE A HIKE!


Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies department