Tue, 21 May 2024


The fitness trend combining exercise, city life and discovery
Published on: Saturday, May 11, 2024
By: ETX Daily Up, FMT
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Although walking in the city may seem counterproductive, especially given the pollution, it can have many physical and mental health benefits. (Envato Elements pic)
Who says you have to go to the mountains, a forest, a lake or any other green space to go hiking? Nature may appear to be the ideal place for this type of activity, but it’s far from the only place offering a suitable setting for such an expedition.

Indeed, “city hiking” or “urban hiking” is a current trend that brings the activity to a new context, all while offering the same benefits as the traditional version. The practice is already shaping up to be a hit, with tens of millions of views on social media.

Guidelines established by the World Health Organization (WHO) don’t focus on the number of daily steps but on the duration of weekly physical activity people should be getting, with adults ideally having to aim for 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.

Meanwhile, scientific studies report that taking between 8,000 and 10,000 steps per day is associated with a lower risk of mortality in people under 60. Recent research has even suggested that 3,967 daily steps can reduce the risk of death from all causes.

Walking is always good for your health, if only because it’s an activity that’s accessible to everyone and which can be done absolutely anywhere.

While nature is the focus of much scientific research, particularly for the benefits it can offer in terms of stress, concentration and productivity, not everyone is lucky enough to live close to a forest or a mountain. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from giving up hiking.

On the contrary, although walking in the city may seem counterproductive for some, if only because of the pollution, it can have many physical and mental health benefits. This is undoubtedly what has enabled urban hiking to emerge as a fashionable new sporting activity.

The idea is simple: set out for a hike in the city, as you might in the great outdoors, with a rucksack on your back, but in clothing more suited to the urban environment. There’s no need to put on your hiking boots; a simple pair of sneakers will do, as will a comfortable pair of shorts or pants (or even a dress or skirt).

It is advisable, however, to make the most of your hike by pairing it with an appreciation of the city and its sights, paying attention to everything around you, and to seek out, as far as possible, green spaces within the municipality.

Whether urban or not, for a proper hike, you need to walk for a relatively long distance at a slightly faster pace (if possible) than a simple stroll, even if that’s what it might seem like you’re doing in the city. As for the benefits, these are similar to those of walking or hiking in nature, both physically and mentally.

“Mentally, urban hiking offers a chance to destress and unwind amidst the hustle and bustle of city life, providing a connection to nature even in an urban setting,” one expert says.

“Exploring new neighbourhoods and discovering new trails can boost curiosity and creativity and give us new appreciation for the diversity and beauty in our everyday places.”

At a time when over 1.4 billion people should be more active, according to the WHO, this form of exercise could prove beneficial in many ways, particularly in the fight against sedentary lifestyles.

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