Alltrails Is Keeping Us Moving and Healthy During The Pandemic
A good hike can be exhilarating. From the calming effects of a picturesque natural setting to the pleasing rush of endorphins created through exercise, a walk in nature can lift a person’s mood.
Communing with nature has perhaps become even more important amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As work and school closures have forced people indoors, many are anxious to spend more time outside. And with canceled social activities giving all of us more free time, people are looking for healthy yet safe ways to spend their leisure hours. Hiking, walking, and biking along local nature trails are all excellent ways to stay active while also maintaining a healthy distance from others.
Enter AllTrails, an app and website that helps people find local nature trails and green space in their area. Whether you live in Kansas City or or Poughkeepsie, AllTrails will show you where you can walk, hike, bike, or simply enjoy quiet time in the great outdoors. With a database of more than 100,000 trails, the app includes photos, maps, user reviews, sunrise and sunset times, elevation, and difficulty level along with other useful information.
“Our whole philosophy is that the outdoors are for everybody,” says AllTrails CEO Ron Schneidermann. “There are trails everywhere around the globe. And so we’re trying to break down the barriers that keep people from spending time outside and really create a global movement…of reawakening, reconnecting people to the outdoors.”
And what an appropriate time to bring forth such a mission. AllTrails has seen its user base increase by 115% with people hitting the trails at a rate three times that of previous years. Schneidermann has some thoughts on the recent success of AllTrails and the growing interest in hiking. “Life in a pandemic has really been an accelerant on an already rising trend, which is people turning to the outdoors and to AllTrails for physical, mental, and emotional health benefits,” he says.
Spending time in nature offers many health benefits, a fact we may sense intuitively but is also backed by scientific research. According to Harvard Health Publishing, hiking improves cardiovascular health, strengthens core muscles, and hones balance. And a number of small studies have confirmed it can also help reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing. As the pandemic continues to add stress to our lives in the form of health concerns, disrupted routines, and economic uncertainty, engaging in activities that reduce emotional strain is essential for a healthy lifestyle.
Given its popularity, AllTrails is playing a big role in helping people stay healthy during the pandemic by promoting exercise and connection to nature. AllTrails even works with a team of medical advisors to help the app and site be a resource for healthy living. As one advisor, Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, put it “I’m very excited and passionate about connecting the dots between nature and wellness, whether it’s adventure, which I love, or quiet time in nature, which I love.”
In addition to helping people live healthier lives, AllTrails also works to protect the inspiring natural settings their site and app promote. AllTrails donates 1% of its annual profits to partner organizations who share the following beliefs: 1) the outdoors are for everybody and 2) people are happier and healthier when spending time outside. One such organization is the Student Conservation Association whose mission is to train the next generation of conservationists.
AllTrails is also passionate about outdoor access for all, particularly underrepresented groups. To that extent, they sponsored the 2019 SHIFT Festival (Shaping How We Invest for Tomorrow) in Jackson Hole, which explored the impact of nature on public health through the theme of “nature as medicine.” AllTrails has also teamed up with The Trust for Public Land to ensure ongoing, adequate access to public green space, parks, and trails, particularly in cities where 80% of Americans live and where access to nature is increasingly important.
But no matter where you live, AllTrails believes it’s nature that unites us. And they’re working to make sure we can all access it for generations to come.