When it comes to workouts, I’m going to be very honest with you: I’m not what you call a Sporty Spice. The chance that you’ll meet me in some kind of gym, wherever that might be, are close to zero. The idea alone of lifting weights, running on a treadmill (even while watching a series) or doing burpees is enough to get me running to a land where such things don’t exist. And even running in the wild or cycling as a form of sport don’t really speak to me. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like to spend time in nature or that I don’t like to do some physical every now and then. If you’re like me, chances are you’ll get enthused by the new soft hiking trend.
These days, pretty much all trends start on TikTok and that’s no different for soft hiking. Lucy and Emily, from @softgirlswhohik, pretty much initiated the term and we’re all there for it. If you like to do things at your own pace, if you prefer not to sweat your soul out while getting some physical action, soft hiking will be just the workout you were looking for.
All in all, the idea behind soft hiking is pretty simple. You go on a hike but while doing so, you take the time to soak in your surroundings. That means you don’t set a time for yourself, you stop whenever you want to look at a flower and if there’s a bench on your way, why not stop and enjoy a small picknick? Soft hiking pushes anyone, whatever their body type or fitness level, to just go out and do things at their own pace while still getting some kilometers in their legs.
As the Soft Girls Who Hike themselves explain on TikTok, when you go on a soft hike, it’s not about getting to your destination as soon as possible or burning as many calories as you can. It’s about having fun, moving and spending time in nature. See something you like that’s a bit off trail? Don’t hesitate to go and have a look, it all adds to the fun!
“We think ‘soft’ hiking – and walking in general – is the most underrated exercise. It’s not only good for you physically but for your mental health as well. It’s one of our non-negotiables for our own wellbeing and soft hiking can be so good for that community feel, as well as finding solitude in nature”, Danni and Mimi, the co-founders of LIFT Studio London, tell in an interview with Metro UK.
The impact of nature on our health, be it physical or mental, has been proven multiple times. According to a study by University of Exeter Medical School from 2019, spending 120 minutes a week in nature, whether you do so through one longer exposure time or several shorter ones, can do wonders to you wellbeing and overall health. Moreover, a YouGov poll found out that for 91% of the participants, seeing birds and hearing birdsong had a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. And those are just a few examples.
Of course, just like any form of exercise, soft hiking does require a little bit preparation. Even though you might not be going on a 20km hike, you do still need the right equipment. That means: walking shoes, comfortable clothing, water and food. And, unless you’re an absolute pro and you’re sure you’ll never have to call for help, you might also want to pack your smartphone for safety and GPS reasons.
Once that’s done, of course, you still need to choose which trail you’ll be walking. And with who. Close-by, far-off, at home or on vacation, there are without a doubt many options to choose from. Even if you live in a crowded city, there’s undoubtedly a beautiful park or a riverside walk to go and explore. While some people might prefer to do such a hike on their own, others find it more fun (and encouraging) to go with a friend or a whole group of walkers. Don’t know what you prefer? There’s only one way to find out. Three, two, one, soft hike!