As restrictions are lifting around the globe, and people are excited to stretch their legs and begin to explore their hometowns again, there is a huge amount of people starting to explore the great outdoors and beautiful trails through our bushlands. With National Parks closing their gates due to capacity limits, to carparks overflowing hundreds of meters down the roads, it is an interesting thing to see. The question we are asking, is what is it about nature and hiking that is attracting so many first time explorers and dreamers right now? We share our assumptions and ideas on why everybody is hiking, and if you’re not yet, then maybe you should!
It’s an escape from the real world.
Right now, it is no surprise that the real world is going through some serious S***. By hitting the trails, and enjoying a short drive out to the countryside (or even your local reserve!) you can feel like you have escaped the crazy and can find stillness. The sounds of birds chirping, the trickle of water down the creek, and the stillness of everything around you just gives the gift of calm and rest, with no expectations in return.
It is fun for the entire family.
Everybody is welcome to hike. From the little legs to the older legs, with so many trails around us, we have the luxury to find the right mix for our social circumstances. You can head out with your friends and partner for an all-day adventure, or take the toddler for a wander out yonder. The options to make a full day of it are endless, and packing a picnic just goes without saying.
It’s a unique form of exercise.
All exercise is good for us, but hiking involves something many other forms of exercise don’t: trails. It requires navigating in a world that’s not totally predictable. Slippery gravel, low hanging branches, fallen logs, trail markers, water crossings and native animals on your path – all of the things you might encounter on a trail require micro- and macro-adjustments to your route, which is good for your brain. In his book, Successful Aging, Daniel Levitin explains that hiking exercises the part of your brain designed to help you navigate through life, and which also aids in memory. The restrospenial cortex and the hippocampus.
Of course, hiking also allows you to enjoy the distractions of nature from a complete full body workout. The core, legs, back, butt, and upper body are all heroes in the workout that hiking provides.
With this in mind, hiking not only helps your heart, but helps your mind stay sharp too.
It gives you a different kind of high.
If you are keen to nerd out for a minute, then read on… When you hike, brain-derived neurotrophic factor is released (BDNF). This stimulates neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons). Basically, BDNF is Miracle Grow for your noggin. And every time you hit the trails, you’re nourishing the spongy goodness that is your brain.
Hiking also gives you the kind of high not associated with drugs or alcohol. It comes from the sense of achievement. From the rush of accomplishment. From the joy of stepping outside of your comfort zone. It increases your ‘happy hormones’ in a healthy and natural way and you can get the serotonin and dopamine for free!
It’s an opportunity to connect with nature.
This one sort of relates to number one, but there is just something special about connecting with nature. From the sounds to the smells, gratitude for nature surrounding you is so powerful to a happier existence.
Our word of encouragement.
We are so happy to see so many people out exploring the trails, but we encourage you to enjoy the trails responsibly and with an environmentally sustainable approach. What does this mean? It means following the leave no trace principles, and being respectful of nature. With a gift of gratitude, peacefulness, happiness, calm, stillness and so much more being given to you for free, we ask that you give a gift in return of respect and understanding. Now, get out there and enjoy the trails!