Hiking is a form of physical activity that strengthens your body and rejuvenates your mind. And that’s the fact!
Walking amidst the purity of nature while glancing at the beautiful landscapes tends to revitalize your brain and make you more creative and efficient.
No, we are not just saying this! You will get the same response from doctors and physical fitness experts if you consult with them.
Doctors prescribe hiking as a prominent factor that has an overall positive impact on our brain. So, is there any proof of this? Well, yes!
Many researches have shown tangible benefits of hiking such as boosting fitness, improving mental wellbeing and assisting in social lives.
In this article, we will explain it to you how hiking can actually change your brain. The facts are gathered through experienced doctors’ perspectives.
Hiking Minimizes Rumination
If you know what rumination is, you might also know that it is not good for you. Rumination is a continuous negative thought, and it is a significant risk factor for mental illness. So how can hiking overpower your negative and obsessive thoughts?
While strolling in nature, you can dive into the beauty of it. In the meantime, there is a very high chance that you forget about your stress and despairs for a while. As per proven research, a 90-minute walk in nature could result in lower levels of rumination. This, in definitive terms, means reduced anxiety and stress. Additionally, hiking in a pleasant natural environment for around 20 minutes can drop up to 13.4 % cortisol. Cortisol is your body’s primary stress hormone.
The research, on the contrary, also proved that walking in the urban environment caused no drastic change in the neural activity. So in a nutshell, a proper hike in a well-filtered natural environment can clean up all the negative thoughts from your mind.
Hiking Improves Creativity and Problem Solving Skills
Sitting in a room in front of your device screens for long can make you feel monotonous and lazy. The more you spend time this way, the more your brain stops operating creatively. So how can you change the diminishing creative thinking of your brain? Simple: take a refreshing hike!
A study by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer came up with the fact that creative problem solving can be improved by both taking your focus off the technology and spending more time in nature. With a valuable stroll around the fresh and lively environment, you can find up to 50% increment in your creative and reasonable thinking. In the meantime, your brain can focus more on the natural environment rather than in confinement of your homes or offices.
These researchers state that more we spend our time in urban settings (technology and noise), we tend to become more stressed and depressed. That’s why spending ample time in nature could provide major psychological benefits.
Hiking Boosts Brainpower
Brainpower refers to your mental ability and intelligence. There are many ways to improve your brainpower. And among these, hiking has proven out to be an efficient one.
Hiking is a form of exercise that helps to keep your brain cells nourished and healthy. The research facts suggest that you can burn between 440 and 550 calories per hour by hiking in nature. This proportion also depends on the duration and the difficulty of your hike. Researchers from the University of British Columbia have further explained that aerobic exercise helps to increase hippocampal volume, which is a part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory. Such a form of exercise helps to prevent memory loss as well. You can use your brain to its full potential with regular hiking trips.
Hiking Improves ADHD in Children
Hiking comes with tangible benefits to the children as well. In recent times, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) stands out to be a common problem among children. The severe defect leads to children’s easy distraction and less mental focus. Similarly, it also results in excessive hyperactivity.
While the parents keep on searching for the proper cure for this burdening problem, some research experts have come up with an effective solution. As per the study conducted by Frances E. Kuo, Ph.D., and Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D., exposing children with ADHD to green outdoor activities tends to minimize its symptoms. This way, they can adapt to nature well and leave behind all the hyperactivities.
From the research, it can be concluded that exposure to the natural environment works well to make you more attentive. A morning or evening walk in the form of a hike can mitigate unwanted ADHD symptoms and make your children mentally healthy.
Essential Tips Before Starting A Hike
As you have learned the facts about hiking and how it tends to treat your mind well, you definitely would want to give it a go. But before starting your routine, these few hiking tips could come handy for you.
- Begin with a small hike and choose the comfortable trail that suits your fitness level.
- Check the weather condition and plan your hike according to it.
- Try to familiarize yourself with the trail via a gentle stroll.
- Pack proper gears which include hiking shoes, clothes, water bottles, and some snacks.
- If you have friends who love to hike, ask them for their company. It will benefit all of you.
- Start the trek with a gentle walk and pace yourself on the way forward.
Without a doubt, hiking has the potential to change your brain and make it more creative and risk-free. A soothing company with nature tends to mitigate your mental stress and anxiety and make you fully refreshed, and what is even better? Now it’s proven.
We hope that this article has answered your ‘why to hike?’ question in a detailed way.
Don’t just read it. Go on a hike and feel the change yourself.