Do you miss packing your backpacks? Do you miss wearing your hiking shoes and heading out with your water tumbler in your hands? Do you miss the sun? What about the lush greens and the dancing trees around?
Don’t worry. You are not alone.
Reports say that 8.1 million more Americans went hiking in 2020 compared to the previous year. There were also 7.9 million more who went camping than the previous year.
This is why it is understandable to miss nature a year into this pandemic. We all have been missing the wild. The question is, is it already safe to go outdoors? Is it safe to go on a road trip, hike, pitch a tent, and camp?
The answer is yes, for as long as you know the things to do. After all, this pandemic has changed a lot in our lives, even in the way we travel.
Benefits of Hiking
Do you want to go hiking down the famous Larapinta Trail? Or do you want to give the John Muir Trail in California? Or why not go a little farther in Eastern Cape and try the Amatola hiking trail?
A study conducted by the University of Vermont shows that more people valued outdoor activities during the pandemic. According to the study, people valued their mental health more with being one with nature. These activities include:
- watching wildlife
- taking photos or doing nature art
- relaxing alone outside
So why is hiking a perfect activity during this pandemic?
Hiking trails are good for your physical health
Due to limited mobility, we don’t get to move around as much as we did pre-pandemic days. Before, even shopping is already considered a physical activity. Nowadays, due to the remote set up, we are stuck in our working stations at home every day.
This is why going on hiking trails every once in a while is the perfect workout. Research says that walking on uneven terrain allows the body to use 28% more energy than walking on flat surfaces. The uneven terrain causes your leg muscles to exert more effort.
Hiking trails are good for your mental health
COVID-19 anxiety is real. Hearing the news of people dying can get stressful. Being stuck indoors and working at home can get a little draining. We all need time to breathe. And there’s no other way to calm your nerves than to see the endless greens in the wild. You get to breathe some fresh air and enjoy nature’s beauty. Research says that outdoor activities like hiking boost your mood. It can also eliminate feelings of depression and anger.
You can choose less crowded trails
It’s always the parks and the beaches when you think of outdoor activities. Compared to parks and beaches, you can’t find as many people on hiking trails. This makes it safe for people to hike around. The wild is vast, so you can be sure that there is social distancing when you go hiking. And as you know by now, outdoor locations are safer than indoor locations.
Here are some reminders if you’re planning to hike this weekend:
Don’t go if you have symptoms
First, make sure you are well before you go. If you are experiencing symptoms, don’t go, or you can be the spreader of COVID-19. If you can get tested before you go, it would be better, though not required.
Choose less crowded trails
If you can choose lesser-known trails, the better so that you’d expect fewer people when you go hiking. Avoid going on weekends, too. Do your research first about lesser-known trails. Or if you really want to go to the popular ones, avoid peak hours.
Wear your mask
Wear your mask even if you are heading outdoors. But only when you feel comfortable. If it’s hard for you to breathe while hiking and wearing a mask, make sure to keep your distance from other people.
In some narrower trails, physical distancing is difficult to achieve. Make sure you maintain at least six feet away from other people during your hike.
Avoid sharing gear or food
Do not share your water bottles or utensils with others during the hike. If possible, maintain distance from other people when eating. This will lower your chances of contracting the virus.
Hiking can do wonders for you during this pandemic. Nature heals not only your body but also your mind. Leave the stress at home and enjoy the outdoors. You have to follow safety protocols when traveling.