Image of Doctors: how hiking and nature literally changes your brain

Doctors: how hiking and nature literally changes your brain

There is a magic in nature that is incomparable to anything else. It makes us stop and admire the beauty that surrounds us. It is a source of calm to catch our breath from our anarchic lives. It is understandable why many people reside in nature for contentment or inspiration. Remember how many fairy tales occur in the woods.

Fantastic Benefits from Hiking in Nature

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Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered time in nature can decrease rumination. The researchers compared the reflections of two groups of participants. One set of individuals hiked through an urban environment, and the others through natural surroundings. They found those who hiked for ninety minutes through nature reported lower levels of rumination, and had reduced neural activity in the area of the brain connected with mental illness. The hikers in the urban setting did not experience less rumination.

Scientists noted increases urbanization is closely related to the rise in depression and other mental illnesses.

Disconnecting from Technology Boosts Problem Solving

Psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer conducted a study where their participants backpacked for four days without any contact with technology during that time. Afterward, they were asked to accomplish tasks that required complex problem-solving and creative thinking. The performance of the tech-free backpackers improved by 50%.

The researchers determined that technology and urban noise are both disruptive and taxing on our cognitive functions.

Improve ADHD in Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is becoming progressively common among youth. Children struggles with impulse control, staying focused and exhibit extreme hyperactivity. Pharmaceutical medication can do more harm than good for these kids. Frances E Kup, Ph.D., and Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D., completed a study that proved that children with ADHD who participated in “green outdoor activities” reduced their symptoms significantly.

Exercise Boosts Brainpower

Hiking can burn 400-700 calories per hour, depending on the route’s difficulty and your body mass. Also, it is easier on knees and ankles that other workouts, like running. It has been proven that those who exercise outside are more likely to continue their regime; therefore hiking is a terrific choice for maintaining a regular exercise schedule.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia established that aerobic exercise for women over the age of seventy increases hippocampal volume. This is the part of the brain pertinent with spatial and episodic memory. Hiking not only improves memory loss, but it also prevents it!

Science has found this exercise to reduce stress, promote self-esteem, and release endorphins.

Start Today!

Father and son walking during the hiking activities in autumn forest at sunset

Why take meds if you can take a hike? It’s a lot cheaper with a lot more health benefits.

Check out the trails in a park near you. Keep in mind that any outdoor exercise is better than none! Lace up your sneakers, grab a water bottle and a sun hat, and go for it! Remember to turn off your phone (but keep it with you in case of an emergency.)

Your hike will give you inspiration, peace of mind, calmness, and improve your brain. And that, dearie, is no fairy tale!