Hiking takes us places on foot that are pristine, untouched and beautiful. It also takes our minds to a similar kind of place. That’s why it’s so addictive (in a good way.) Being out in nature, discovering new places, experiencing the buzz of climbing your first summit, or reaching the end of a long trail you have been hiking all day, is a feeling that stays with you. It’s a mind-body-spirit experience for sure! Whatever that feeling might be for you, it’s one of adventure, awe and fulfilment. It reminds us of being a child again. It encourages us to look after our bodies and minds, to aim to be strong, fit and able bodied so we can get out there and adventure for many years to come.
This isn’t something we should wait to do “one day” or “when I’m older.” No way! Hiking is for all ages, and the sooner you start, the more you will get out of it.” Hiking is different to walking round the block. Hiking on uneven terrain challenges our bodies more, so our metabolic rate goes up and we burn more calories. We are also required to focus more, because the terrain is constantly changing, and this means being more present. The mental health benefits are far reaching too. Psychologists have even established a specialised area of their practice called Adventure Therapy.
There are countless studies showing the mental and physical benefits of Green Exercise. Adventure Travel is one of the fastest growing sectors in the travel industry, as many seek to escape their everyday life, or to find that “something” that they feel is missing. They want to have an active goal to get fit for, rather than sitting by the pool drinking cocktails for a week and feeling awful at the end of it.
I have been hiking since I was a little girl in South Africa, exploring the Drakensberg Mountains with my family on foot. Many people think they need to wait until they retire to take time out for adventure, but more and more people are realising that you’ve got to start now. Adventures in the outdoors offer us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in nature, be challenged by steep and undulating terrain, different climates and conditions, and find peace and solace in the quiet time spent walking in the wilderness.
You don’t have to venture far to find adventure. We are surrounded by natural beauty in Australia: wonderful peaks to summit, bush trails to explore and coastal routes with breath taking views. Sometimes it may seem overwhelming trying to work out a route, what gear you need or where to start. Or maybe you just want to do it with friends, or meet new people who enjoy spending time walking in the wilderness.
Whatever you do, make a decision to include adventures in nature in your life on a weekly basis. Start small. Do it with others and slowly build your confidence. You’ll be amazed at the far-reaching benefits you will experience, in body, mind and spirit. A day spent exploring new places and hiking in natural surroundings, is like going away to a health retreat: it leaves you feeling invigorated, dusts out the cobwebs, gives you a healthy dose of sunshine, fresh air and challenges you to step out of your comfort zone…
Lisa Marshall, a.k.a Trek Coach, specialises in giving people the tools and confidence to get out hiking in nature. She has coached teams to hike and climb mountains across the globe for over thirteen years, and continues to explore new trails both far and wide. Her online program Get Trek Ready gives you a 58 page guide to trekking and a 16 week Fitnesstrek Training Program to encourage you to get outdoors and get fit for adventure.
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