Why you should start hiking for mental health.

The world has been crazy lately. The last 2 years we’ve lived through a pandemic, screen time has increased inflation rates are soaring and many of us have struggled with our mental because of this, and others mental health struggles have been triggered because of these extra pressures. Actually, about 20% of us will struggle with our mental health throughout our life and this is on the rise due to these added pressures. One thing that is always emphasised is that exercise is good for your mental health. And sure it is! It releases endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine which while struggling with your mental health will be lacking but what we want to explore here is why hiking is good for your mental health and what hiking for mental health entails.

You’re not alone if you struggle with your mental health. Or if you’ve just been feeling a little down or anxious lately. Many of us go through similar struggles but the link between exercise and mental health is well documented and can help boost the chemicals your brain releases. However finding an exercise that you enjoy, can stick to, and helps your mental health can be challenging and this is where hiking comes in.

In these instances, hiking doesn’t need to be hard, it can be a bush walk, a day hike, or a thru hike. But it is an accessible form of exercise that has the ability to improve your mental health. This is why we’ll be discussing the benefits of hiking for mental health.

Hiking for mental health in Wallarah National Park

So how does hiking help mental health?

Exercise and its benefits

Most of us are aware there is a link between exercise and health. It helps manage blood pressure, weight, increases energy, and also benefits your overall mental health. Exercise produces endorphins which are our body’s ‘feel good’ chemical and it has been shown that regular physical exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and exercise due to the increased chemical production.

Time to switch off

If you’re anything like most people these days, you’re probably very disconnected from the real world. Work is online or through a screen and your phone is basically glued to your hands. And there is nothing wrong with that, it is how the world is nowadays. However, living like this disconnects you from nature and from the real world. According to Stanford University being around nature and in the fresh air can lower your risk of anxiety and depression and in turn dampen the symptoms of mental health disorders.

This is by no means a cure for mental health, but it is a proven way to manage the effects of mental health disorders.

physical benefits of hiking
Away from the mirrors

When it comes to mental health, one factor that seems to be consistent is poor self-esteem. And as stated before whilst going to the gym and exercising is great for your mental health. Being surrounded by mirrors in the gym can sometimes feed these poor body image and self-esteem issues. And this is where hiking for mental health comes in! Hiking means you are far away from mirrors and you can exercise in the beauty of nature instead of in the harsh lighting and being surrounded by mirrors. Here you can focus and appreciate what your body can do for you rather than how it looks to you. This will improve your self-image and in turn your mental health.


Hiking is accessible! You don’t need a lot of money, you don’t need to pay a membership and you don’t need a certain level of fitness.

One thing that deters many people from exercising for their mental health is the upfront money required to start at the gym. Sure you might have activewear and joggers already, but most gyms require a security deposit, a start-up fee, and weekly fees. So before you’ve even started at the gym you’ve spent up to $500 and you haven’t even broken a sweat yet. Hiking, however, is as expensive as you want it to be. You don’t want to buy boots? No worries stick to easier tracks and you’ll be fine in your joggers. Don’t want to spend a cent? Easy! Go find a bush track near your house and you’re set. As you become more confident and interested you can spend money upgrading your gear where you feel fit.

Another reason people don’t exercise for their mental health is the level of fitness required at the gym. And no we don’t mean you need to be fit to join a gym. Most people who are new on a fitness journey feel intimated at the gym. There are a lot of machines they don’t know how to use, they’re worried they’ll embarrass themselves in front of everyone and because of this, they don’t go. Well with hiking you’re in total control. Choose a track that you feel like you can muster and head off. Too hard? No worries head home and try again. Nobody will know. The fear of not knowing what to do is eased and you’ll feel more confident quicker because you’re in total control.

hiking benefits
Clear your mind

You might not struggle with your mental health, but your mind might be busy. Being out in nature helps slow things down. It puts everything back into perspective and allows you to take control of things again. Much like switching off, this time in nature can help combat mental fatigue and help reset our bodies and minds, and allows us to tackle the world with a fresh perspective.

As you can see there are many benefits to hiking for mental health. And the link between fresh air and exercising and improved mental health is undisputed. Hiking doesn’t need to be hard. It can be a stroll through the park if that’s all that’s available, a walk on the beach, a climb up a mountain, or a 30km thru hike. It doesn’t matter but exercise and opening up our senses to new smells and sights is a great way to alleviate mental health symptoms.

If you’re contemplating hiking for your mental health make sure you check out our tips before you head out!

If you feel like you need more help please contact a professional for support.


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