When it comes to combatting stress, mountain hiking comes up trumps

Tue, 09. Jul. 2019

When it’s time to relax, many people prefer a countryside setting to their own home. This is one of the many surprising findings of a survey carried out by Swiss Tourism when they questioned potential future visitors from our country and from north-western Europe.

The online survey, representative of age, gender and education, had over 2,000 respondents from Switzerland and 800 from France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands individually. The study shows that the countryside is a place that people yearn for. Those from north-west Europe associate nature with harmony and recreation and rather than as a wilderness with no comforts. In particular, hiking in the countryside is seen as a complete contrast to the pressures of the digital meritocracy. Those who go out into the countryside usually do so without any kind of performance pressure.

Nice weather and a good network of routes
The survey respondents indicated that the most important factors for a successful hike are mainly twofold: Nice weather and attractive natural landscapes. They long for well-kept, comfortable natural surroundings. Also, from their point of view, a good network of routes is essential. Compared to the five north-western European countries, the nature-loving Swiss are the uncrowned kings and queens of hiking. Not only are the Swiss more active hikers than the inhabitants of other countries, but their walks take longer (an average of three hours) and they climb to higher altitudes. The average altitude difference is 500 metres higher than in other countries. Almost sixty percent of summer tourists go hiking at least once during their stay. So, hiking supports alpine tourism, because eighty percent of hikers go walking in the Alpine region.

Hikers are getting younger
At first glance and given the demographics (with an aging population), the amazing result of this study was the younger average age of hikers. This isn’t because grumbling and sulking children are being forced to join their parents on hikes. In fact, young adults and their group of friends are getting out to explore over 65,000km of hiking trails in Switzerland. Proof of this can be seen in the fact that hiking has long since been a popular sport on social media. Summer and autumn photos dominate Instagram and Facebook. Hiking has been a trend for a few years, especially for young people (18- to 35-year-olds). This is particularly the case for long-distance walking, which attracts significant interest among younger target groups.

The Via Alpina is announced
Announcing the country’s long-distance hiking trails has been a particular feature of this year’s hiking campaign by Swiss Tourism. These routes include Via Alpina, which crosses Switzerland from Vaduz to Montreux in twenty daily stages, covering 390 kilometres. The route goes through six cantons, crossing 14 passes. Walkers must climb a total of 23,600 metres.

In the western Bernese Oberland area, this hike goes from Kandersteg over the Bunderchrinde to Adelboden, then over the Hahnenmoospass to Lenk, the Trüttlisbergpass to Gstaad and on via the Eggli and the Col de Jable to L’Etivaz. You can see each individual stage in detail online.

Based on AvS/Kurt Metz
Translated by Justine Hewson

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