Hiking, a simple yet profound activity, has long been celebrated for its numerous health benefits. From cardiovascular improvements to muscle toning, the physical advantages of hiking are well-documented. However, recent studies have delved deeper into the mental wellbeing benefits of hiking, particularly for adults. One such study, titled “Long-Term Effects of Mountain Hiking vs. Forest Therapy on Physical and Mental Health of Couples: A Randomised Controlled Trial“, provides valuable insights into this area.

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Key Findings

Beneficial for Sedentary Adults: The study found that highly functioning adults with a sedentary lifestyle benefit both physically and mentally from forest therapy and mountain hiking. This is particularly significant in today’s world, where sedentary lifestyles are increasingly common and pose a major public health challenge.

Gender-Specific Benefits: Women, in particular, benefited from mountain hiking in terms of their hemopoietic system and aerobic capacity. However, both genders profited mentally from contact with nature, emphasising the universal appeal and benefits of such activities.

Implications for Prevention: The study suggests that forest therapy and mountain hiking could be safe and health-promoting interventions. They could be applied in primary prevention as well as in secondary prevention, offering a holistic approach to health.

Nature’s Role in Mental Health: The research underscores the mental benefits of contact with nature. Participants reported improvements in quality of life, satisfaction with life, mood, and both internal and external health-related control beliefs. This reaffirms the age-old belief in the therapeutic power of nature.

Physiological Outcomes: Beyond mental health, the study also highlighted physiological outcomes. For instance, mountain hiking showed a gender-specific effect on women, particularly in areas like the hemopoietic system, aerobic capacity, skeletal muscle mass, and hydration. Both men and women also experienced improvements in blood pressure.

Harnessing the Power of Hiking for Mental Wellbeing

Given the findings of the study, personal trainers have a unique opportunity to incorporate hiking and nature-based activities into their training regimens. Here’s how they can leverage this information:

Educate Clients: Personal trainers can educate their clients about the mental health benefits of hiking, encouraging them to incorporate it into their fitness routines.

Plan Nature-Based Workouts: Trainers can organise group hikes or forest therapy sessions, combining the benefits of physical exercise with the therapeutic effects of nature.

Customise Based on Needs: Understanding the specific benefits for different genders, trainers can tailor their hiking sessions to meet the unique needs of their clients.

Promote Consistency: Given the long-term benefits of hiking, trainers can emphasise consistency, encouraging clients to make hiking a regular part of their lives.

Highlight the Social Aspect: The study focused on couples, indicating the potential social benefits of hiking. Trainers can organise group sessions, fostering community and social interaction among clients.

Hiking is more than just a physical activity; it’s a holistic experience that offers myriad mental health benefits. Personal trainers, equipped with the knowledge from studies like the one mentioned, can play a pivotal role in promoting mental wellbeing through nature-based activities.


  1. Huber, D., Freidl, J., Pichler, C., Bischof, M., Kiem, M., Weisböck-Erdheim & Hartl, A. (2023). Long-Term Effects of Mountain Hiking vs. Forest Therapy on Physical and Mental Health of Couples: A Randomised Controlled Trial. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 20(2), 1469. Click here to review the full research article

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