How Hiking Changes Your Brain

Posted in Wellness

While it's not hard to understand why getting exercise while enjoying gorgeous scenery cleanses the body, mind and soul, there is now scientific evidence for this phenomenon.

Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

The constant pressures of work and family often led to negative thought processes, heightening depression and anxiety and compromising the rare moments of relaxation we do have. Hiking offers a nearly instant feeling of peace and contentment while significantly decreasing negative, obsessive thoughts. Spending an hour and a half walking in a natural environment reduces rumination levels and subgenual prefrontal cortex neural activity, decreasing the potential for mental illness. Hiking in a natural environment as opposed to an urban environment is key for reaping the full benefits of hiking.

Spur Creative Problem Solving

Disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature drastically improves creative problem solving skills. Urban noise and technology are both extremely disruptive, consistently demanding attention and preventing concentration, which takes a toll on cognitive functioning. When you do hike, leave your technology at home to decrease mental fatigue, calm your mind, and boost your creative thinking. Mental health is important to consider for fit healthy women.

Improve ADHD

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) struggle with impulse control and focus. They often demonstrate extreme hyperactivity and get distracted easily. Typically parents of children with ADHD reach for prescription medication, which may do more harm than good, especially long term. In many instances, natural solutions are just as effective in the short term and don't come with the same long-term harm. Studies examining the correlation between ADHD and natural exposure have focused on children. However, the findings reveal that exposure to natural environments may prove beneficial to anyone who has trouble paying attention and/or displays excessive impulsive behavior.

Exercise is a critical component of general well-being. Depending on your size and the difficulty of the hike, hiking burns anywhere between 400 and 700 calories per hour and is not as hard on the joints as running. People who exercise outside are more likely to stick with it, making it an ideal choice for anyone interested in improving their regular exercise routine.

Hiking is one of the simplest and most affordable athletic activities. Before you begin hiking, invest in sturdy hiking shoes and a good hat and water bottle. Many hikers also purchase trekking poles to boost their speed while taking some of the pressure off of their knees. Wear layered clothing so you can take off or put on layers with ease to remain comfortable during the hike. Don't forget to stretch and apply sunscreen before you head out the door.

Start small to test your abilities, such as walking the trails in a local park. Consider using a smartphone app to locate hiking trails in the area. Seeking out pockets of nature within an urban environment offers a refreshing change of pace, increasing the benefits of your hiking. If it's a struggle to find trails close to home, plan regular excursions out of town to engage in longer hikes.

Posted in Wellness