Virtual hikes

Virtual hikes and cycle tours are a great way to make indoor workouts much more interesting. I’ve seen some of them in my local gym, but have always been frustrated by the lack of selection and the biggest downside of course is that they’re only accessible when I’m at that (particularly expensive) gym, and not when I’m at home on my stationary cycle or at my closer, and much cheaper, gym.

What is a virtual hike?

A virtual hike is a high quality, usually HD, 4k or 5K video that you can watch while you’re on a treadmill, exercycle or other cardio equipment. You simple watch the video while you’re working out, and my preference is to listen to my own choice of music – although some come with (sometime irritating) commentary or relaxation music.

What’s the benefits of watching a virtual hike or virtual cycle while working out?

There’s loads of reasons why you might want to do this actually. Here’s a few…

Travel the world while you exercise

Travel isn’t exactly easy any more and I find watching a few virtual tours while I’m on the treadmill is a great way for me to learn about new places. I can run through the streets of Queenstown, Rome or New York, or take cycle through New Zealand’s southern alps or wine country. My favourite though is to use them to scope our hikes that I one day would like to visit and complete myself. Most virtual hikes and cycles and longer journeys are compressed into 30 or 60 minutes, so you’re not spoiling the experience for when you do eventually visit – instead you’re researching great places to visit and working out at the same time.

Relax and de-stress

Sure you can watch Netflix on your phone while you’re on the treadmill, but I find nothing compares with choosing my own music with a virtual tour going so I can just whisk myself away to some peaceful place. Watching TV or Netflix shows can entertaining, but I don’t find them particularly relaxing.

Get a better cardio workout

If I watch TV in the gym, or just gaze around the room I find I get a bit lazy in my cardio session. When I watch a virtual hike or virtual cycle though, I can imagine myself going up a particularly steep hill ad just pushing on a bit more to see the views. So I workout a lot harder and it’s way more satisfying and better for me.

What you need to look for in a virtual hike or virtual cycle…

Like anything, there’s a range of quality out there when it comes to virtual tours. Here’s what to look out for:

  • HD, 4K or 5K footage
  • ability to play your own music
  • smooth footage, shot using a gimbal – shaky video of someone bouncing every time they walk gets annoying really fast
  • captions on the videos telling you interesting snippets about what you see along the way (don’t bother with commentary if you want to play your own music anyway).

Check back for updates on virtual hikes and virtual cycle tours…

I’ll add more information and links to great virtual hikes and virtual cycles soon. You can search them up on Youtube, although Youtube’s advertising is worse than ever so I plan to bring you a guide so some of the other options out there.

In the meantime, here’s a few good Youtube virtual walks to get started with… you can see the difference in quality between these videos.

Virtual Hike: Oregon Coast Views – Forest/Beach-Ecola State Park

Autumn Forest Virtual Walk in 4K

Virtual Hiking – Upper Nihotupu Dam Walk (1 Hour) – Auckland, New Zealand