“Soft Hiking”: The TikTok trend for all fitness levels
In a way, the Covid pandemic was the birth of the gentle sports revolution. While in some parts of the Internet you could still watch people doing their 10-step fitness plan in the gym, others showed that you can also set smaller goals – and filmed yourself doing your daily “mental health walk” around the Block.
“Soft Hiking” is trending on TikTok as an inclusive sport for everyone
The latest TikTok trend in terms of mental and physical health, namely “soft hiking”, also hits the latter notch.
The post by the TikTok duo @softgirlswhohike, who made the trend popular, has now been liked and saved almost 70,000 times, and the comment column also shows how much the two creators hit the nerve of the times with their “soft hiking”.
The video by the “Soft Hiking” influencers triggers strong emotions in many
The reactions to the concept of “soft hiking” are very emotional and reveal how many people have a strained relationship with classic hiking and mountain sports: “Obviously this video triggered something in my brain because now I’m crying and I have no idea , why,” writes a @softgirlswhohike follower. Another writes: I can’t explain exactly why, but this video felt like a warm hug to my confidence.” “I am disabled, not in a wheelchair, but I need a cane and I get tired very quickly from the pain. This video gave me a lot,” shares a third.
The “soft hiking” should empower everyone (!) to feel good in nature and to celebrate movement without having to push your limits
But what exactly is it that touches and inspires users on TikTok so much about “gentle hiking”?
The concept that the two TikTokers are promoting is primarily low-threshold and is intended to help improve one’s own relationship with exercise in nature. As the two also say in their video – and the comment column shows that some share these experiences – they repeatedly experienced the inner pressure of having to surpass themselves and give everything when hiking.
This can not only be demotivating, in the worst case it can lead to you simply stopping going into nature because you have the feeling that you still have to prove yourself there. “Soft hiking”, as shown by the two creators, is intended to prevent this resignation and encourage people to go out into nature with a “come what may” attitude – without a fixed goal or altitude difference, sometimes to the left and right turn into side paths and linger longer in beautiful places along the way than just for a short break before hurrying to the summit.
What do outdoor experts think of “soft hiking”?
The “soft hiking” should therefore offer the opportunity to explore nature without feeling overexerted or even insufficient. With this mind shift, the idea goes, hiking will become more accessible for everyone.
This has many advantages, agrees Carla Khouri, mountain guide and outdoor instructor at the Merrell Hiking Club: “You don’t have to worry about distances, differences in altitude or reaching peaks. Hiking can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels and is a great way to explore new areas.”
Carla Khouri, Outdoor Instructor, sees many benefits in soft hiking – both physical and mental health
According to Khouri, “soft hiking” has four major health benefits:
Improving stamina without expending it
First, it improves cardiovascular health: “Gentle walking is a great form of aerobic exercise that can improve cardiovascular health.” Specifically, that would mean: “Walking on a gentle trail can help increase heart rate, lower blood pressure and improve circulation.”
Reduce stress by releasing serotonin
It also helps to reduce stress: “It has been proven that being in nature reduces stress and anxiety”, because: “Studies have shown that being in nature increases serotonin levels, which can lead to greater feelings of happiness and well-being ”, adds Khouri.
Strengthening of muscles, bones and joints
Another advantage of “soft hiking” is that it strengthens muscles, bones and joints: “With gentle hiking you are walking on flatter, but still uneven terrain. This can lead to better balance and stability, and reduce the risk of falls,” explains Khouri.
Social contact prevents emotional isolation
And last but not leastadds Khouri, hiking (because it’s not just huffing and self-control like a typical hiking trip) can be “a great social activity that provides an opportunity to spend time with friends and family,” which in turn can help “Reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation”.
Bonus: “Soft Hiking” is not only suitable for every fitness level, but also for every budget
And we would even point out one more benefit of “soft hiking”. Because it is (apart from the journey to the respective excursion destination) completely free of charge. And let’s be honest, especially in current times of inflation and when you can hardly stay anywhere in the city without being expected to spend money, we need exactly such a sports trend.
How do you plan a soft hiking trip? And what do you have to consider during this time?
A roadmap by Carla Khouri
- Choose a suitable way: “When choosing your trail for the first hike, make sure it really suits your fitness level. Also look for a path that is meant to be a hiking trail – meaning it is well marked.” Also important for “soft hiking”: that the path is not too steep and long. Circular routes such as lake routes are particularly suitable for the beginning, as they usually have little incline and at least one café on the route will invite you to take a break.
- Put on appropriate clothing and shoes: Yes, this tip is not new when it comes to outdoor activities, but it is often ignored, especially by beginners. Khouri advises: “Put on layers and wear comfortable, breathable clothing that is weather appropriate. Be sure to wear sturdy, comfortable walking shoes or shoes with good traction. In wet weather, Goretex hiking shoes are recommended because the special membrane makes the shoe waterproof and breathable at the same time.” In the sense of “soft hiking” and the goal that you really feel relaxed afterwards, we also recommend a pair of socks and a fresh T-shirt. Because back on the train, nothing is as pleasant as a dry pair of socks and a fresh shirt.
- Pack (only) the most important things: When “soft hiking” we don’t want to lug heavy. “However, take enough water, snacks and other essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat and a map. You should also have a small first aid kit, a flashlight and a whistle for emergencies.”
- Taking your time is the key: “Take breaks when needed and listen to your body. Don’t overexert yourself. Remember: hiking is not a race!” We would even go further and say in the spirit of the hiking influencers behind the “soft hiking” trend: Just take breaks whenever you like, even if you’re not too exhausted.
- respect nature: This tip always applies, whether for extreme hikers or soft hikers. “When hiking, make sure to respect the environment. Stay on designated trails, leave trails as you found them, do not litter or disturb wildlife. Remember that we all have a responsibility to protect and conserve our natural resources for future generations.”
This article was created with text passages from our GLAMOR colleagues from the UK.