What is Soft Hiking? Pros and Cons

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Soft hiking is a new trend that has been gaining popularity in recent years. Unlike traditional hiking, which emphasizes physical challenges and speed, it is a more mindful and inclusive approach that prioritizes personal enjoyment and connection with nature.

TL;DR: If you’re looking for a way to explore the outdoors without feeling pressured to push yourself to your limits, soft hiking may be just what you need.

One of the main benefits is that it allows you to connect with nature in a more meaningful way. By taking a slower, more deliberate pace, you can fully appreciate the beauty of your surroundings and soak in the natural environment.

Additionally, it is a low-impact aerobic workout that can improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

However, like any activity, there are pros and cons and rules for hiking to consider before you hit the trails. Here’s a list of some of the advantages and disadvantages of to help you decide if it’s right for you.

soft hiking

PROS and CONS of Soft Hiking

Pros:

  • It is a low-impact form of exercise that can improve cardiovascular health.
  • It’s accessible to people of all fitness levels and ages.
  • It encourages mindfulness and being present in nature.
  • It can help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • It can be a fun and social activity to do with friends or family.

Cons :

  • It may not provide the same level of physical challenge or intensity as other forms of hiking.
  • It may not be suitable for those who are looking for a more competitive or challenging outdoor activity.
  • It may require more time and patience to fully appreciate the beauty of nature.

Deep Dive on Pros (Generally, yes You Should Take a Hike)

Reduced Stress

⬇️ It can help reduce stress levels by allowing you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Being in nature and taking in the scenery can help calm your mind and reduce anxiety.

Boosted Feelings Of Happiness And Wellbeing

Spending time in nature has been shown to boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Walking slower allows you to take in the beauty of your surroundings and appreciate the world around you. This can lead to a sense of gratitude and contentment.

Reduced Anxiety & Depression

Connecting to Nature can be a great way to combat anxiety and depression. Being in nature has been shown to have a positive effect on mental health. The fresh air and physical activity can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Improved Fitness

Walking outdoors is a low-impact aerobic workout that can help improve your fitness levels. It can help improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease. This type of movement is accessible to people of all fitness levels and can be a great way to stay active.

Better Sleep

Spending time in nature and being physically active can help improve the quality of your sleep. Being active can help tire out your body and mind, allowing you to get a better night’s rest.

Boosted Vitamin Levels & Immunity

Spending time in nature can help boost your vitamin levels and immunity. The fresh air and sunlight can help increase your vitamin D levels, which is essential for bone health. Being in nature can also help boost your immune system, which can help fight off illness.

Improved Cognitive Function

This activity can improve cognitive function by allowing you to disconnect from technology and focus on the present moment. Being in nature has been shown to improve focus and attention, which can help improve cognitive function.


What is it Exactly?

It is a relatively new trend that has been gaining popularity on social media platforms like TikTok. It is a style of hiking that emphasizes personal enjoyment and connection with nature over competition, physical challenges, or speed.


Origins

The term “soft hiking” was coined by Lucy Hird and Emily Thornton, two friends from the UK who started the Instagram account “Soft Girls Who Hike” in 2019. They wanted to create a more inclusive and accessible hiking community that emphasized personal enjoyment and connection with nature over competition or physical challenges.

Today, soft hiking is more than just a trend – it’s a movement that is helping to make hiking more inclusive and accessible for everyone.

Their approach to hiking quickly gained popularity on social media platforms like TikTok, where they began sharing videos of their hikes and encouraging others to join in on the fun. The term “soft hiking” soon became a viral trend, with people all over the world embracing the idea of slowing down and enjoying the outdoors at their own pace.


Alternatives

Forest Bathing

Forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese practice of immersing oneself in nature for the purpose of improving overall well-being.

Backpacking

Backpacking involves carrying all necessary supplies on a multi-day trek through the wilderness. You really get the chance to connect to yourself and practice self reliance.

Hut to Hut Hiking

This is a fantastic way to have a vacation of a lifetime where you totally immerse into your senses but still have a comfortable bed and wine at dinner served to you at high elevation mountain huts in the Alps and Dolomites.

Hiking with Wine

Hiking with wine, also known as wine hiking or vinotherapy, involves combining a leisurely hike with stops for wine tastings or picnics and is very popular in Germany.


Igniting Wonder with Nature Based Movement

It is more than just a leisurely stroll in nature. It’s an opportunity to ignite wonder and inspire awe in the world around you. When you slow down and take the time to appreciate the beauty of nature, you can experience a sense of awe and wonder that can be truly transformative.

One of the key principles of soft hiking is mindfulness.

When you’re present in the moment and fully engaged with your surroundings, you can experience a deeper connection with nature. This can help you feel more grounded, centered, and at peace with yourself and the world around you.

Mindfulness in Practice

Hiking is a great way to practice mindfulness and connect with nature. By slowing down and taking the time to appreciate your surroundings, you can cultivate a sense of peace and tranquility. Here are a few tips for incorporating mindfulness into your practice:

  • Focus on your breath: Pay attention to your breath as you hike, taking deep, intentional breaths as you go. This can help you stay present and centered.
  • Use your senses: Engage all of your senses as you hike, noticing the sights, sounds, smells, and textures around you. This can help you stay grounded in the present moment.
  • Hike your own hike: Soft hiking is all about taking your time and enjoying the journey. Don’t worry about keeping up with others or meeting a certain goal. Instead, focus on what feels good for you and your body.

Another way to ignite wonder is to pay attention to the small details.

Take a moment to notice the patterns in the leaves, the colors of the flowers, and the sounds of the birds.

When you slow down and take the time to appreciate these small details, you can experience a sense of awe and wonder that can be truly transformative.

Final Verdict

Soft hiking is a form of hiking that emphasizes personal enjoyment and connection with nature over competition, physical challenges, or speed. Even barbie likes to go hiking, so join in on the fun.

It is a low-impact aerobic workout that can offer similar benefits to cardiovascular health as running, cycling, and swimming.


Like it? Share it to promote sustainable tourism.


Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.

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