RETAIL executive and copywriter KYLE Tan, 25, runs about 100km every week. But he’s not your average marathon runner. Tan is what a trail runner and hiking buff.

After clocking off work at Athletes’ Circle in Section 17, Petaling Jaya, there are days when he simply puts on his running shoes, and runs all the way to the Bukit Kiara park in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, a good 30 minutes away. And that’s where he starts his actual run – through the forest trails at the park.

Outdoors beat the hustle bustle city life anytime for outdoor enthusiast Kyle Tan

Outdoors beat the hustle bustle city life anytime for outdoor enthusiast Kyle Tan

Tan is part of a growing number of young people who are starting to pick up outdoor sports like hiking, mountaineering, jungle trekking and mountain-biking.

And Tan believes that of all the health and fitness fads that we’ve seen in the past – aerobics, yoga, kickboxing, road-running, etc. – none of them can compare with activities in the great outdoors.

“There’s just something very spiritual about hiking and running through the forest, you know?” he said.

“It’s about the process of self discovery, of knowing how much you can take, and how much you are willing to take. People in the city now usually settle for safety and security.”


Rock climbing is another great outdoor sport to pass time actively.

According to Leong Dee Lu, owner of Core Zone, the ultimate toy shop for local outdoor aficionados, hiking and outdoor activities used to be more for older people with more time on their hands. Not so much these days.

“I first went to Bukit Gasing (a forest reserve in Petaling Jaya) many years ago and there were hardly any young people there,” she said.

Now, we have young people like Tan, who regularly organises hiking trips for college students and his own group of friends.

“There are people organising outdoor trips every month, so all you need to do is just say you want to be part of the group, and show up,” he said.

Many of these groups have Facebook pages, which make it that much easier to find out about activities and get involved.

“The great thing about Malaysia is that even in the city, there are so many green lungs you can go to. Even in the Klang Valley, you have FRIM (Forest Research Institute of Malaysia), Bukit Gasing, Bukit Kiara, Bukit Tabur, Broga Hill… There are just so many!” added Tan.

Journalist Haziq Hamid, 25, has been organising hiking trips as well, but on a smaller scale. “I had nothing to do one weekend, so I decided to organise a trip to Broga Hill (in Semenyih, Selangor) for my colleagues.

“We’ve been doing it for a year-and-a-half now. There are three of us who are always there, but my colleagues will bring their friends along occasionally.”

There’s also a growing group of people getting into mountain biking, like nature lover Mike Kong, 25, who rides weekly along the many off-road trails within the Klang Valley with his friends.


Mike Kong finds that  mountain biking improves his focus and provides him with stronger mental endurance.

Mike Kong finds that mountain biking improves his focus and provides him with stronger mental endurance.

“Recreation has become the only form of release for me as the city is unable to give me the joyful and healthy lifestyle I seek,” said Kong.
According to Malaysian Wellness Society president Dr Rajbans Singh, Malaysians are some of the fattest people in South-East Asia.

“Malaysia has the highest rate of obesity in South East Asia, and the fourth highest in Asia. It is surprising to see many young adults included in that percentage,” he said.

The National Health and Morbidity Surveys reported that in 2011, 15.1% of Malaysians aged 18 and above were suffering from obesity. Current statistics from the Health Ministry also revealed that two in five adults are either overweight or obese.

And yet, 75% of Malaysians do not exercise at all, according to the same survey.

Dr Rajbans added that outdoor activities were perfect for young people, not only for their physical health, but also their mental well-being (refer to sidebar on page 2).

For those looking to build up some muscle while being in the great outdoors, rock climber Donovan Tan, 27, recommends you try his sport.
“Usually, you will come back with sores and most of the time while you’re climbing, you’d think you can’t do it. It’s all about mind over matter, and you are actually capable of doing anything,” said Donovan.

For outdoor enthusiast Mohd Azni Fairul Ahmad, 29, who has cycled from Malaysia to Thailand, Myanmar and Loas, being in the great outdoors also means gaining experiences you would never have gained in, say, a gym or futsal court.

“When I was cycling in Indonesia, my bike broke down late in the evening, in the middle of nowhere. But a kind soul drove me to the next village, 300km away.

“You learn that even at times when you’re at your most desperate, things can somehow work themselves out.”

Tell us what you think!

Go top