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Do you Know the Mental Health Benefits of Hiking?

May 23, 2018

Do you know the mental health benefits of hiking? Visit idhikethat.com to learn more.

Did you know that hiking is actually a form of therapy?

We kicked off the new year with a blog post about the 7 ways hiking can improve your health.  One of the health benefits mentioned is that hiking is good for your mental health. 

So what exactly are those mental health benefits?  Let's take a closer look.

  • Reduces rumination

A few years ago, a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America discovered that participants who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment, compared to those who walked in an urban environment, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain linked to a key factor in depression.  These findings concluded that easy access to nature may be essential for one's mental health, especially in today's quickly urbanizing society.

  • Boosts creative problem solving

Another study found that disconnection from technology while hiking boosts creative problem-solving skills.  In this study, a group of participants went backpacking for four days and were not allowed to use any form of technology.  They were instructed to perform tasks, both before and after their trip, that required complex problem solving and creativity.  The results of this experiment concluded that the participants had a 50% increase in performance on problem-solving tasks after being exposed to nature without any technology.

  • Improves ADHD

Exposure to nature can alleviate symptoms of ADHD for both children and adults.  According to US Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, a study found that "green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children across a wide range of individual, residential, and case characteristics." 

So send the kids outside.  It's what the doctor ordered!

  • Boosts brain power

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found "that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume — the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory — in women over the age of 70. Such exercise not only reduces memory loss but helps prevent it as well. Researchers also found that it can lower stress and anxiety, boost self-esteem, and release endorphins." 

  • Prescribed by doctors

Did you know that some doctors are actually writing exercise prescriptions?  Physicians in Vermont are now giving out written prescriptions encouraging their patients to go hiking and spend time in nature at state parks.  

As you can see, spending time outdoors in nature can be a life-changer for not just our physical bodies, but also for our mental health.

How has hiking improved your mental health?  We would love to have you share with us.


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