Sheffield’s hikers say outdoors was a lifeline for them during pandemic

Hikers have said Sheffield’s proximity to the Peak District was a big help for them during the pandemic, which saw hiking on the rise throughout the country. 

Nearly a quarter of the British population became hikers after the Covid hit, the figure increased from just 16 per cent in 2018 according to a Mintel survey. 

William Ellemore, 22, an employee at SIG, who lives in Gibraltar Street, said: “It’s weird enough to see more people hiking now after Covid.” 

Mr Ellemore is a regular rambler, who usually goes hiking in the Peaks District at least once every other week, with an average hiking distance of 12 to 24 miles each time. 

He got Covid-19 in January, 2022 and experienced less severe symptoms, 

“I think more people are health conscious realising they need to keep their body in better shape if something comes around again,” he said. 

“And missing out on the outdoors for so long has made more people want it, having the option removed has increased demand for it.”

Shakthi Thyagarajan, 19, a Journalism Student at the University of Sheffield, who lives in the Endcliffe Student Village, developed a regular hiking habit since she was young and she has never been tested positive for Covid-19.

She goes hiking at least once a week, spending at least two hours or a whole day outdoor.

She said: “I think wearing mask definitely helped me avoiding Covid but my hobbies are also naturally socially distances, such as hiking and walking outdoors.

“I love hiking because I find being outdoors in nature is relaxing but I also get to exercise.”

Millions of people have changed their gyms and exercise classes for more outdoor activities, and the majority of them take up hiking as a newly developed hobby, following with cycling and jogging. 

Studies have shown that spending more time outdoors in green space has become important to the public especially during the pandemic, mainly because of the mental and physical health benefits nature can provide. .

Mr Ellemore said: “My previous hiking building up my cardiovascular endurance may have been a reason that my covid was less severe,”

“For me and other hikers, I think due to the fitness levels of it, we didn’t suffer from covid as much.”

For Sheffield residents, within 30-minute train distance from city centre to the Peaks District make it even easier for locals to get involved in outdoor activities.

The Peaks District national park has more than 10 million visitors every year, around 38,000 people live within the boundaries of the area, according to the Peak District website. 

There is a further 1600 miles of rights of way, accessible to walkers, with 64 miles of these suitable for the disabled.

Written by Gana Ming

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