As someone who grew up playing lots of different sports, and has spent 8 years in the fitness industry, working in gyms, hiking wasn’t the type of exercise I saw myself doing until I was much older. To be honest, I didn’t see it has hard enough, as in – not as good as running, spin or lifting weights. That was real exercise to me, walking was what you did to get around. Though I’ve always enjoyed walking as a way of seeing a new place, but until recently, hiking wasn’t an activity I would normally choose to do. Being part of Take Shape Adventures, I have discovered the many benefits of this type of exercise from fitness, mental health, a community of like minded people, and the solitude of being self-sufficient, with everything I need around me. This has give me a new appreciation for the outdoors.
Firstly, walking is great exercise that everyone can do, you just have to choose walks that suit your fitness level. For me, coming off the back of an overnight hike that featured steep, rocky trail and a heavy rucksack, the feeling in my legs rivals that of day two after a heavy leg session in the gym. The endorphin rush I experience after a good run or a tough kettlebell session, is surprisingly the same as what I experience after a day or weekend out bushwalking. It’s a high that lasts until I hit a wall, realising just how tired I am. Exhaustion – the feeling of physical accomplishment. I love it!
Hiking is something I now enjoy with friends, family and strangers and makes up a big part of my social life and I love the community that has been created with Take Shape Adventures. I’ve met many different people, like-minded but with different perspectives and stories to tell. Similar to a sporting team, I’ve found that the support, encouragement and celebration of achievements between fellow hikers, leaves me feeling part of something, and confident to step outside my comfort zone. I love that I did my last hike with others that don’t regularly hit the gym, being part of a group meant we all went further with each other’s encouragement.
The mental and physical health benefits of being outdoors means I now take every opportunity I can to be out in the fresh air. Better concentration, vitamin D, boosts in serotonin – making me feel happier and reduced stress levels, are just some of the benefits I’ve experienced. Being outdoors also adds variety to my weekly exercise routine, keeping me motivated and expanding my physical goals.
After having done a lot of overseas travel, hiking has opened my eyes to all of the amazing places right on my doorstep, easily accessible as a day trip or long weekend away. I’m looking forward to experiencing more of these places with the TSA Community.
By Jess Perkins