The Advocate - Hepburn

Nature's therapy: Hiking in Australia for mental and physical wellbeing

Hiking in nature can increase wellbeing. Picture Shutterstock
Hiking in nature can increase wellbeing. Picture Shutterstock

This is branded content.

We've all heard the old adage 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'. While incorporating fruit into your diet is certainly recommended for better health, it's rarely as simple as that.

Something that is known to be highly effective at supporting better health, both mental and physical, is exercise. Outdoor exercise is particularly beneficial.

In Australia, we are incredibly spoiled for choice when it comes to finding a spot to exercise in nature. From beachfront parks to local bush tracks, you can exercise at a time and place that suits you with zero hefty gym fees attached.

One outdoor exercise that is increasingly popular and sometimes referred to as 'Nature's Therapy' is hiking. Yet to experience the mental and physical wellbeing that hiking can bring?

Here's why you shouldn't delay in booking one of these 'therapy' sessions for yourself. )

Give yourself time to pause, breathe and enjoy the sounds of nature

There's something about hiking that other types of outdoor movement simply cannot match.

Perhaps it is the isolation and ability to step back from technology, or it could be the ability to connect with nature without the interruption of everyday noise pollution.

Every hiking enthusiast values their time for different reasons, but one thing they all agree on is that once you try it, you'll never look back.

Why hiking is so beneficial for both mental and physical wellbeing

There is increasing evidence showing that human beings not only benefit from but need consistent exposure to green spaces.

From parks to gardens, ovals to hiking trails, being outdoors and in nature feeds into improved mental health. Stress, anxiety, depression - all of these have been shown to decrease and be positively impacted by time outdoors.

The reason hiking is especially beneficial is down to the fact that hikes tend to be longer in duration, and further from sources of stress than say an inner city park.

As hiking also adds an element of challenge depending on the terrain, we are engaging in a great form of exercise, while not necessarily realising it. Able to lose yourself in the rhythm of the hike, your mind is cleared and your body is strengthened.

Invest in yourself and enjoy a new approach to improved mental and physical health

It can be so hard to prioritise your own wellbeing. This is especially true if you are someone who hates the idea of working out in a gym or sitting in a therapist's office.

Finding an outlet that you enjoy and look forward to is key to creating habits that nurture better overall health. If you're yet to discover the right outlet, hiking comes highly recommended.

The sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a hike is a serious mood booster.

You do not need to be an expert outdoorsman and there are trails to suit all skill and fitness levels. From shorter hikes lasting just a few hours to those with overnight camping involved, hiking offers something for everyone.

Find your gear and get out on the trails...

To start your hiking journey, you'll need some hiking equipment such as comfortable shoes, a good backpack and plenty of water to drink.

Once you find your feet, so to speak, you can then dive right into the world of equipment and spend longer and longer in the great outdoors.

The clarity, mindfulness and peace that hiking offers are all but guaranteed to have you dreaming of your next hike before the last is even finished.

Feed your body's need to be in nature

If you're tired of feeling exhausted, flat, run-down and overwhelmed and nothing you have tried thus far is helping you feel positive or empowered, it's time to try hiking.

Embrace your body's physiological need to reset itself in nature by planning a soul-restoring, therapeutic hike.

Skip intense therapy sessions or punishing gym sessions and discover hiking as a means of nurturing the mind and nourishing your body.

Build strength, resilience and more by simply putting one foot in front of the other as you explore Australia's vast and unique wilderness. You'll never look back, only forward to the next life-changing hike.