Over the years we’ve watched fewer and fewer people walk out onto the mountains that surround us. It seems our guests don’t walk as much as our guests used to. Being a resort with 18 marked trails, for every fitness level, into and onto some of the Drakensberg’s most beautiful mountains, you can appreciate us being curious about this modern trend? As we’ve wondered why this may be so, we’ve also wondered if our guests realise what they’re missing? Hiking is incredibly healthy for you, and not just physically.

WALKING AND HIKING ARE DIFFERENT

Firstly, you can’t replace a walk in the mountains, with a walk around your suburb. While walking and hiking seem like the same thing, or a similar thing, they’re actually completely different in terms of their impact on you.

Did you know that your joints, heart and muscles perform in distinct ways during a hike compared to what they do during a walk around the block? According to Professor Daniel Ferris, in a Time Magazine article:

“When you walk on a level surface, your body does a really good job of what’s known as passive dynamics, Your walking stride is like the swing of a pendulum. Thanks to gravitational and kinetic energy, if I start that pendulum swinging, it’s going to keep moving back and forth for a long time without any additional energy input. Like a pendulum, walking on flat terrain allows you to keep moving with little effort.

But when you walk on uneven terrain – the type you’d encounter on nature trails, deep-sand beaches or other natural surfaces – that knocks out a lot of that energy transfer. Your heart rate and metabolic rate go up, and you burn more calories.”

HIKING BOOSTS YOUR MOOD

Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety, Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that.” says Gregory A. Miller, PhD, president of the American Hiking Society on Heathable. This is based on the theory that we – living things – have a natural bond with nature.

HIKING IS GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN

Based on the Attention Restoration Theory hiking increases creativity because exposure to nature can replenish executive functions. Immersion in nature, even just for a few days, has positive effects on creativity and problem solving. A 2015 study from Stanford University found that time spent in natural environments (as opposed to busy city settings) calmed activity in a part of the brain that research has linked to mental illness.

Stanford Research Fellow, Greg Bratman, suggests:

“I’d say there’s mounting evidence that, for urbanites and suburbanites, nature experience increases positive mood and decreases negative mood,” 

HIKING REDUCES NEGATIVE DIGITAL / SOCIAL EFFECTS

We recently heard of a school in Johannesburg that currently has a monthly ‘no digital devices week’ trial going on. Learners are not allowed to bring any digital devices to school for a week. It’s to combat the negative effects of digital and social media on people today. 

Hiking in the Drakensberg, in this World Heritage Site, makes using digital and social media incredibly difficult. Firstly you need to keep focussed on where you’re walking, and secondly, the further you walk, the more difficult it is to find signal. We don’t need to take your devices away from you, you just need to head out into the mountains.

If you’re not aware of the negative impact digital / social media is having on you, try this Forbes article as a starter.

HIKING IS GOOD FOR YOU

The evidence is overwhelming. Getting out into nature is good for all of you. Physical, Mental, Emotional, Social, Spiritual. Every base is covered.

When it comes to your health, a hike leaving from Cathedral Peak Hotel may be tough to beat.

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