The scientific reason I take my clients hiking

Many of my clients choose to have their weekly sessions with me on a hike. And across the board, we are finding that this is steadily fast-tracking their progress. But why? Let's explore the science behind why a hiking session might just be the right choice for you.


The integration of hiking, physical activity, and therapeutic dialogue in coaching sessions offers a multifaceted approach to emotional healing, grounded in scientific principles. Let's delve deeper into each component.

1. Physical activity and neurochemical response:

Physical activity, such as hiking, triggers the release of endorphins and neurotransmitters like dopamine, which play key roles in mood regulation and cognitive function (Dinas et al., 2011; Foley & Fleshner, 2008). These neurochemical changes create an optimal state for individuals to confront challenging emotions and memories. Moreover, exercise has been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, providing a natural avenue for emotional release and resilience-building (Dinas et al., 2011).

2. Nature exposure and stress reduction:

Immersion in natural environments has been linked to reduced levels of stress and anxiety (Bratman et al., 2019). Exposure to nature activates the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to physiological changes such as lowered heart rate and decreased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone (Ulrich et al., 1991). Moreover, spending time in nature promotes feelings of awe and connectedness, fostering a sense of safety and tranquillity conducive to emotional exploration and processing.

3. Therapeutic dialogue and cognitive reframing:

The conversations we have during hiking sessions naturally foster open communication and trust-building between coach and client. Walking side by side in nature creates an egalitarian dynamic that encourages vulnerability and self-expression (Davis et al., 2016). This collaborative dialogue provides a supportive space for individuals to explore their emotions, reframe their narratives, and cultivate resilience in the face of past traumas. By providing a supportive environment for self-expression and introspection, therapeutic dialogue promotes cognitive and emotional shifts essential for healing.

4. Somatic awareness and trauma processing:

Somatic awareness, a key component of somatic trauma therapy, is integrated into hiking sessions to facilitate the processing of traumatic experiences stored in the body (van der Kolk, 2015). Engaging in physical movement during hiking encourages individuals to attune to bodily sensations associated with past traumas. By incorporating mindfulness techniques and somatic awareness exercises, hiking sessions offer a holistic approach to trauma processing that addresses both the psychological and physiological aspects of trauma (Price & Thompson, 2007).

In summary, in your hiking boots or your wheelchair, hiking coaching sessions are just moving somewhere together on the right path, providing a comprehensive, holistic framework for emotional healing and growth. By leveraging the synergistic effects of physical activity, nature exposure, therapeutic dialogue, and somatic awareness, this integrated approach offers individuals a transformative journey toward wholeness and well-being. As we continue to explore innovative strategies for supporting emotional health, coaching sessions while hiking stands out as a dynamic and effective pathway to healing.


  • Bratman, G. N., Anderson, C. B., Berman, M. G., Cochran, B., De Vries, S., Flanders, J., ... & Wood, S. A. (2019). Nature and mental health: An ecosystem service perspective. Science advances, 5(7), eaax0903.
  • Davis, A. N., Therrien, M. E., & Gifford, R. (2016). Children's restorative experiences and self-reported ecological behaviors. Children, Youth and Environments, 26(1), 116-138.
  • Dinas, P. C., Koutedakis, Y., & Flouris, A. D. (2011). Effects of exercise and physical activity on depression. Irish Journal of Medical Science, 180(2), 319-325.
  • Foley, T. E., & Fleshner, M. (2008). Neuroplasticity of dopamine circuits after exercise: implications for central fatigue. Neuromolecular Medicine, 10(2), 67-80.
  • Price, C. J., & Thompson, E. A. (2007). Measuring dimensions of body connection: Body Awareness and Bodily Dissociation. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13(9), 945-953.
  • Ulrich, R. S., Simons, R. F., Losito, B. D., Fiorito, E., Miles, M. A., & Zelson, M. (1991). Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 11(3), 201-230.
  • Van der Kolk, B. A. (2015). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Penguin Books.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, EC1V
Written by Ali Coco Epps, DipLC, MAC, MEMCC
London, EC1V

Ali Coco Epps is a therapeutic and holistic Life Coach working between London and Ibiza, with clients throughout the world. She is a pioneer of hiking coaching and comes very highly recommended. She is known as The Real Life Coach.

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