|While modern life needs pavement to function, it can also be a bit of a bummer, especially if you run or walk a lot. Hard surfaces can be trouble on your joints in the long run, which is one of the many reasons it’s a good idea to switch up your terrain every now and then. If you live near a trail, a whole new experience awaits. Since July is national Park and Recreation Month, it’s time to strap on someor and consider the benefits of trail running and walking.|
1. It's More Interesting
|No one doubts that running is good exercise, that it’s a great way to lose weight, or that it’s a wonderful way to improve your health, both physical and mental. But plenty of people doubt how enjoyable it is. For them, running ranks only slightly better than burpees when it comes to least-loved exercises, which is a shame, because of the aforementioned benefits. Here’s where trails help. They’re more interesting places to run visually and mentally. Whereas it’s easy to zone out while running—particularly on a treadmill—trails require you to pay attention to where you’re stepping. The scenery also tends to be more interesting, which is a bonus for walkers, too.|
2. It increases strength and improves balance.
|Improving stability has been a big focus of the fitness industry over the past couple decades, from exercise balls to balance boards to Bosu balls. When your body is unsteady, muscles have to work harder to keep you balanced, particularly core muscles. The theme carries over to trails, whose terrain naturally varies compared to flat pavement or treadmills. That variation increases your foot’s range of motion and activates more muscles than flat-surface running or walking. The results? Stronger ligaments, muscles, and bones, along with better balance|
3. It reduces risk of injury.
|Speaking of stronger body parts: They’re also less prone to injury. And because the terrain varies, you’re not hitting the same exact place on your feet with every stride. As Runner’s World, the impact gets dispersed over a range of muscles, not the same ones. That’s just enough of a break to decrease the likelihood of injury.|
4. It’s easier on your joints.
|Hard surfaces like cement and asphalt are not kind to your joints over time. It may not seem like much, but running or walking on a dirt trail—even packed dirt or crushed gravel—takes it easier on your joints and the bones in your feet. That bodes well for being for longevity (and avoiding stress fractures).|
5. It burns more fat and builds muscle.
|Remember that uneven terrain? It also makes you burn as much as 10% more calories, per, and data cited by Runner’s World estimates it can be as much as 90 more calories per hour. Men’s Journal that going downhill helps build your quadriceps, and going uphill builds your glutes.|
6. There are no cars.
|To walk or run around the city is to be amongst motor vehicles and their exhaust, and to be at their mercy at crosswalks, driveways, and alleys. The best trails take you away from them, along with the other obstacles encountered on busy sidewalks or urban paths. Sure, trails have their own obstacles—watch out for those tree roots!—but nothing as annoying as a bus belching exhaust next to you when you’re sucking wind.|
|Really, numbers one through six could’ve been “Because treadmills are boring,” but that wouldn’t have highlighted the many benefits of running and walking on trails. Burpees, on the other hand, aren’t any better when done outside. The great outdoors can only do so much.|
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