Hiking and Cardiovascular Health: The Southern California Way.
It’s no secret that cardiologists often say that one of the keys to ongoing heart health is walking. To that, we can also now add hiking. In fact, countless studies and research have shown that walking and hiking, regardless of the difficulty of a path or trail, can help provide a number of health benefits including weight control, healthier bones, muscles and joints, a reduction of anxiety and depression, and a substantial reduction to the risk of succumbing to heart disease. The results of 43 separate studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that people who exercise can significantly reduce their chances for heart problems, while those who don’t get up off the couch and move are twice as likely to develop heart disease.
Hiking is a Powerful Cardio Workout.
John Muir once said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
In fact, hiking can lower your risk of heart disease, improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and even boost bone density since it’s considered a weight-bearing exercise. If you think about it, those legs of yours are bearing all of your weight every time you put one foot in front of the other.
Hiking can Make you Happier and Healthier.
One study found that hiking increases attention spans and creative problem-solving skills by as much as 50 percent. Another study showed that walking, interacting with nature and surrounding oneself with trees, sunshine, and fresh air really gets the creative juices flowing. A good hike can burn over 500 calories and lower blood pressure up to ten points. The International Journal of Sports Medicine has even said that hiking may even help cancer patients to heal faster.
Hitting the SoCal Trails.
In Southern California, thousands of people take to the trails in surrounding cities by hiking through the outlying areas. Depending on your level of fitness, you can climb the tallest mountains or stroll the tamest path. Here are some of the best ones for keeping you and your heart healthy.
In the Santa Monica Mountains, you’ll find lower elevations but less shade.
- The Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak and Tri Peaks rises to the highest part of the mountains and sports amazing ocean views.
- Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa climbs from the Palisades to Topanga State Park.
- Temescal Canyon has a loop trail that features a seasonal waterfall.
- Solstice Canyon Trail is a beautiful trail that takes you past the oldest tree in Malibu to the ruins of a 1950s mansion.
- Malibu Creek State Park offers a variety of trails, from a relatively flat walk to a steep climb to Castro Crest.
In the San Gabriel Mountains there are 655,500 acres of rugged terrain.
- Climb the summit of Mount San Antonio, known by its more colloquial name of Mount Baldy. It’s 10,064 feet up and a tough, but exhilarating climb.
- Santa Anita Canyon shows off historic cabins and two waterfalls.
- Bridge to Nowhere is an epic 10-mile hike is flat and beautiful, but will still ramp up your heart beat.
- Mount Baden-Powell is 9,407 feet high with amazing views of the Antelope Valley.
Los Angeles itself offers great paths and hiking trails.
- Runyon is partially paved and even has an off-leash area for dogs.
- Cahuenga Peak leads you to the Hollywood Sign.
- The Verdugo Mountains, near Glendale and Burbank, are rugged and uncrowded.
- The Pacific Crest Trail runs through LA County.
Other Southern California hikes:
A healthy body is a happy body. A healthy heart is a happy heart. No matter your age, hiking can help both. So lace up those shoes or boots and hit the trails. Your heart and your loved ones will thank you.