Hiking is a powerful cardiovascular workout that is great for the mind, body and spirit.
It has been known to lower your risk of heart disease, strengthen your core and boost your mood. According to Gregory A. Miller, president, American Hiking Society, "Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating symptoms of stress and anxiety. Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that."
A visit to New Life Hiking Spa, in Killington, Vermont, will remind you. Set in Vermont’s scenic Green Mountains, New Life is a perfect getaway for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and levels. It was opened in 1978, when founder Jimmy LeSage, M.S., envisioned creating a summer camp for adults.
During my five-day stay, every day was a new adventure on a different hiking trail. If you’re a first-time hiker or need to break in slowly, the nature walk is a great alternative to a full-on hike. When I showed up, I had a bit of anxiety from my daily life, and I was nervous after a long break from vigorous hiking. The moderately paced nature walk prepares you mentally and physically for more advanced trails. Offered daily, it covers two to four miles on flat or rolling terrain, with broad scenic views. And, with each step and breath, I could feel the anxiety leave my body. The pace was comfortable enough to carry on a conversation with others and I made new friends on the first day. The hiking professionals who led the group are informative and entertaining. They shared great stories, landmark history and points of interest along the way.
In addition to nature walks, New Life offers levels of hikes: light, intermediate, advanced intermediate and advanced. You will be hiking through the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Maine all the way to Georgia, spanning over 2,220 miles. During the hikes, the pace is set by the group so that no one feels left behind. My daily hikes there became like therapy. Your body also adapts quickly here to the demands of daily hiking.
Every activity before and after the hikes (or nature walks), is a group activity geared towards making you a more effective hiker. There is stretching, water aerobics, strength training and kayaking. Just like summer camp, you make new friends with each group activity. Though you might begin as strangers, you will forge a bond by the end. Guests come from all over the country for different reasons and stay for different lengths of time. The three daily communal meals are based on principles of healthy eating and portion control, easy concepts that you can take home with you. It is recommended that guests stay a minimum of 3 days to reap the full benefits of the destination.
New Life Hiking Spa offers several packages and is modestly priced for this all-inclusive experience. You will leave with new friends and a newfound connection to your higher self that can only be experienced in the fresh air among amazing scenic views.
A Sample Day at New Life Hiking Spa
7:00 am: Morning Stretch
7:30 am: Standing Stretch
8:00 am: Breakfast
8:45 am: Hiking between three to six miles, broken down into three levels. There is also a daily nature walk on offer
12:30 pm: Lunch
2:00 pm: Water workout or fitness class. Kayaking is also offered at this time twice a week
3:05pm: Basic Strength class
4:05pm: Outdoor Activities (Fit Ball, Boot Camp Workout, or lecture on healthy eating)
5:05pm: Introduction to yoga
8:00pm: Evening Lectures & Activities