Ever noticed how the soft breeze and the hummingbirds in the forest can ease off your life troubles? Nature possesses healing and nurturing properties. Since time immemorial, nature has been a human being’s safe haven. It’s this caveman genes in us that make us feel the most comfort while immersed in nature. Aside from that, the plants and trees emit fresh oxygen that invigorates our tired body, soul, and mind. Scientists backed this up showing lots of proof how spending time in nature can give us mental health benefits.
If your fitness regimen revolves around the gym or in your home, you may want to spice things up and include hiking outdoors in your fitness activities. You don’t have to do it every day. A once a week hike can give you the most benefits, aside from getting you out of boredom’s way for doing the same things over and over again. You will reap the following benefits when you put on your hiking shoes and head to the nearest nature park or mountain.
1. Get positive vibes
Researchers presented wonderful results when they made a study between hiking in nature and hiking in a rurban area. Participants who hiked in nature showed a significant decrease in neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain linked with mental illness. They were also found to ruminate less compared to the participants who hiked in the rurban community.
This clearly shows that our environment contributes greatly to our thought processes. Despite the progress and development we enjoy in the rurban communities, they can also be a source of negative thoughts or feelings.
While walking around your block can give you physical health benefits, hiking in nature can give you more. It can give you positive vibes that may not solve your problems, but at least, help you think clearly for the right solutions to your problems.
To keep your mental health, spend hiking outdoors once in a while.
2. Helps enhance creativity
Technology is one cause of mental clutter. One guru says it’s not technology that’s giving us the distractions, rather it’s our compulsive behavior towards technology that makes us restless people and willing slaves of technology. Nevertheless, we could not disconnect from any distractions unless we won’t literally create a space between us and technology.
In another study, participants were told to hike and go backpacking in nature for four days. During these technology free days, they were given tasks that required creative thinking and complex problem-solving skills. After the study, researchers revealed that nature trekking can improve performance and creative thinking.
If you’re always plugged in and are suffering from mental exhaustion and poor concentration, your body might be seeking an adventure in nature.
3. Helps improve ADHD symptoms in children
Children who have ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder are hyperactive, easily distracted, have poor attention and inability to control their impulses. Raising them can be a bit challenging for parents.
However, scientists have found an answer that can help parents ease up in raising ADHD kids. These children are found to respond well to a green environment. They showed lesser symptoms during green outdoor activities, which include sitting by the window in front of a green view, hiking in nature, and playing ball games in the park.
4. Boosts brain function
If you’re looking for an exercise that not only gives you physical health but enhances your brain power as well, then hiking outdoors is the right choice.
Several studies have proven that hiking outdoors can improve memory and boost cognitive function. In fact, one study that involved older women, who performed aerobic exercises, showed an improvement in their hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for emotions and memory. They were also found to have better stress responses and improved mood and self-esteem.
5. Health professionals support it
In cases that deal with depression and stress levels, health care providers believed that ecotherapy is the best prescription that can best ease a patient’s symptoms. More and more health experts are embracing the fantastic benefits that nature can provide to anyone. Hence, they recommend that their patients would spend more time with nature.
6. An excellent form of exercise
Unlike other fitness programs that follow strict routines, hiking is so simple anybody can do it. Aside from its simplicity, it’s also a great activity that won’t hurt your joints like running or hiking. You simply hike and choose whether to remain quiet, sing, or listen to an uplifting podcast.
Another thing is, hiking is safe for everyone, including individuals who have some medical conditions. You’re good as long as you maintain a pace and distance that’s within your capacity.
Hiking is free. You don’t need to pull some bills from your pocket to start exercising. If there’s an investment you need to put your money into, it’s buying comfortable hiking shoes. Trekking shoes are good for reducing stress from your knees and improving your stability.
8. Good for the heart
Hiking is also a heart-friendly exercise. It’s been found to increase your lipoprotein levels and lower your triglyceride levels. An elevated level of triglycerides puts you at risk of atherosclerosis, which is likely to lead to a heart attack or stroke.
9. Boosts your energy levels
Since hiking can improve your circulation, more oxygen is pumped throughout your body, giving you more fuel and enhanced energy. If you’re feeling low energy for no cause at all, go hiking. It’s the best remedy for those random blues.
10. Controls diabetes
Another great advantage you get from hiking is reduced blood sugar levels. All of your muscles are working when you hike, which allows glucose to move from your bloodstream more easily, increasing your energy levels.
For this, hiking is best recommended for people with diabetes. But you should consult your doctor first if you have this condition to ensure you’re doing it safely and correctly.
11. Strengthens your bones
Hiking can help you fight against osteoporosis and arthritis. Because your whole body is moving while you hike, it helps you develop stronger bones and helps reduce bone loss, which normally takes place as soon as you reach 30 years of age.