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Why more millennials are turning to hiking for exercise

More and more millennials are opting for more adventurous workouts

Man hiking on Highlander adventure

Hiking is spreading like wildfire amongst millennials, and with organizations like HIGHLANDER Adventure leading the charge, it’s easier than ever to dust off your gear and make the most of a hiking trail. HIGHLANDER hosts a variety of hiking events throughout the year, stretching over the U.S., Asia, and Europe. 

HIGHLANDER Adventure aims to give people opportunities to backpack through some of the world’s most beautiful locations, like Big Bear Lake, Kalispell, and Ogden. At the helm is CEO Jurica Barac, who told The Manual all about why hiking is becoming a go-to activity for millennials around the world. 

Jurica Barac, CEO of HIGHLANDER Adventure
Jurica Barac, CEO of HIGHLANDER Adventure Jurica Barac

Millennials are prioritizing mental and physical health through adventure therapy

Barac suspects that there are a few common reasons why millennials are disconnecting from everyday life through adventure therapy. “In today’s society,” he said, “everyday life has become too hectic.” 

There’s so much going on between work, commutes, and social media that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Millennials are finding themselves burdened by life’s responsibilities, and they are finding new ways to retreat to a state of childlike, carefree play. Adventure therapy allows people to recover from stressors in just a few days, making it an ideal solution. 

Hikers on a Highlander adventure

Covid-19 was a huge wake-up call for many millennials

Most adventurers on the HIGHLANDER Big Bear trek are ages 30-49, and there has been a steady increase in mountain hiking and outdoor exploration within this age group over the past few years. Barac attributes this shift in perspective to social media and Covid-19. 

After being cooped up indoors during the lockdown, people are starting to appreciate the small things in life, such as time outdoors. Whether it’s going for a day hike or just strolling through a park, millennials are taking their mental and physical health into their own hands. 

On this note, Barac commented, “Millennials realized the importance of well-being, and many started venturing outdoors. Social media also makes it easier to find hiking spots, connect with hiking buddies, and get necessary equipment.”

He’s right! Social media has pretty much disintegrated the barrier of entry for millennials looking to get into hiking. With a web full of information at their fingertips, there’s nothing to stop people from finding great gear, good friends, and jaw-dropping destinations.


Benefits to unplugging and exploring the outdoors

Hustle culture has pushed society to a place where our lives are fast-paced to an unhealthy extreme. While you don’t necessarily need to go outside to take a great break, Barac believes that the healing power of nature gives you far better results. The pull to regularly unplug from today’s society is stronger than ever, and millennials are experiencing the benefits. 

Barac has met many millennials throughout his HIGHLANDER Adventure events, and many of them are never turning back to their stationary pre-Covid lives. Unplugging from the world every once in a while has allowed millennials to experience improved physical health through weight loss and better sleep, but there are many mental health benefits as well. From socialization with other hikers to finding a carefree moment, the fresh air has become an addictive way to de-stress. 

Millennials are learning that when they take care of themselves, they’re able to put 110% into everything they do. Barac said it perfectly: “[The outdoors] just brings so many great inputs into your life that manifest themselves and result in better outputs!” 

As more millennials embrace hiking and outdoor exploration, the movement continues to spread, igniting a deeper connection with the natural world. With HIGHLANDER Adventure and similar organizations leading the way, the future is bright for millennials seeking to reap the many rewards that come with adventuring.

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Sarah Joseph
Sarah is a lover of all things outdoors. With a bright sense of adventure and a heart for the mountains, she is always…
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