The benefits of hiking are numerous! Getting regular physical activity improves the health of your heart. Numerous studies and pieces of research have continuously shown the advantages of regular exercise on our overall health and fitness as well as on the quality of our lives. Regular exercise lowers the risk of developing high blood pressure while also significantly lowering the risk of a heart attack.
Hiking can improve your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, weight control, bone density, and mood. Exercise on its own can help prevent or relieve stress, which can have a negative impact on your heart health. Exercising outdoors amplifies these benefits.
So, are you geared up? But before you go there are some precautions you need to consider.
According to research from the American Heart Association, activities in high-altitude places may be risky for people with high blood pressure or certain heart problems. Cardiac arrest is the third leading cause of death in the outdoors, causing half of all mountain-climbing fatalities.
Intense physical activity may cause sudden cardiac arrest, especially if the body hasn't had time to adjust to the higher altitude and is dehydrated. It can occur without warning and be fatal within minutes.
There is no need to avoid hiking though so here's how to lower your risk factors both before and during hiking.
- Check your family history. Knowing the medical history of your family can help you prevent heart disease and stroke. Family history is closely associated with both the risk of heart disease and the risk factors for heart disease. If your parent or sibling has a history of heart disease before age 55 for men or 65 for women, you are at a higher risk. It is advised that you visit a cardiologist before engaging in strenuous physical activity.
- Check your cholesterol level. High cholesterol triples the risk of a heart attack in men. Blood pressure should be 120/80 mm Hg, and total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL.
- Get approval from your physician. If you've previously experienced chest pains, consult your doctor to ensure you're physically fit for the activities you're planning. To ensure that your condition is stable, your doctor may refer you for an electrocardiogram.
- Improve your physical condition slowly. Walking gives you a cardiovascular workout while also strengthening the muscles you'll use on your hike. Adjust your mileage goals based on your age and fitness level—according to the study, under-fit hikers were 27% more likely to suffer a sudden cardiac arrest.
- Increase the intensity of our outdoor activities because not doing so could put us at danger of events like heart attacks and cardiac arrest, especially in the high-stress conditions of today brought on by COVID and workplace pressures.
However, if you have been diagnosed with heart disease, consult your doctor before beginning any type of exercise regimen to ensure that it is safe for you to do so, as participating in activities that are too strenuous may result in complications.
- Staying hydrated can help to prevent or at least slow the changes within the heart that lead to heart failure. Even on short, hour-long hikes, dehydration can set in faster than you realize, so it's important to drink frequently to stay hydrated. A good rule of thumb is to drink 4 ounces of water every 10 to 15 minutes on mild days and double that on hot and humid days.
- If you feel tired find an easy section of trail with relatively level tread. Stop and allow yourself to relax the best you can.
- Watch out for these symptoms: racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, and intermittent pain, pressure, or squeezing in the center of the chest.. This pain can spread to the upper body, including the arms, shoulders, back, neck, jaw, and stomach. Women frequently experience nausea, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms might indicate a potentially dangerous heart rhythm problem that could lead to cardiac arrest.
- If you experience any of these symptoms, avoid taking over-the-counter pain relievers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are commonly used to treat pain and inflammation, such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. This increase in risk affects both people who already have heart disease and those who do not.
If you suspect someone is having a heart attack, do the following:
- Evacuate to a nearby road and seek medical attention (Call 911 or the local emergency number) as soon as possible.
- Have the person sit down, rest, and try to remain calm.
- Remove any restrictive clothing.
- Chewing aspirin tablets may aid in the dissolving of blood clots, giving you more time.
- If the victim stops breathing or does not have a pulse, begin CPR with 30 chest compressions followed by 2 breaths.
We highly recommend that you take a wilderness first aid course, as a part of which you will also learn how to administer CPR, among other things. You can register for a wilderness first aid course on our website here https://adventuretripr.com/details/wilderness-first-aid-course
If you suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression, it can cause changes in your health, and not just because you may develop bad habits for your heart. According to research, mental health has physiologic effects on the body. Identify and address the source of your stress or anxiety. Seek therapy if necessary, and communicate with your loved ones. Sharing your feelings with someone close to you could be a significant step toward recovery.
The pandemic has resulted in increased anxiety in many of us and may have caused changes to our health that we may have missed spotting as we perhaps did not have a regular health checkup during the past three or so years. Treat this as a reminder to get a full health checkup done and to be on top of your health so you can enjoy the great outdoors and recreate outside to get fitter and stay healthy.
Keeping our bodies and minds active is one of the most important factors in health, particularly in heart health. Spending time in nature is an excellent way to accomplish this. Simply follow these safety measures before and during hikes to reduce your risk of a heart attack.
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