Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

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hiking doc

We know that getting out and exercising is pretty good for your health; just like we know hiking is good for both the mind and the body. But do you know what hiking actually does for your brain? As explained by doctors, it can:

Help you Stop Obsessive Thinking
Are you the type of person to obsess over every little detail? Well that’s not very good for your mental health, believe me! In order to help combat that constant negativity in your head, there’s many different things you could try; but did you know that hiking is proven to significantly decrease the amount of those thoughts you feel? According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that’s exactly what doctors found!
Doctors came to this conclusion based on the reported rumination from people hiking through the wilderness versus people hiking through a typical urban area. The results showed that those who spent 90 minutes in nature had both lower levels of rumination and reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex – the area most associated with mental illness.
dog hike
Boosts Creative Problem Solving… As Long as You Leave Your Tech at Home
Psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer conducted a study and discovered that as long as you disconnect yourself from technology while you reconnect with nature you’ll notice a drastic improvement in your creative problem solving skills! To determine this, they observed two different groups of hikers roughing it out for four days; one group had access to technology while the other did not and the results were fairly conclusive.
They attributed the results to the fact that technology can be largely distracting, so try your next hike without it!
Can Improve ADHD in Children
Is technology ruining us as a species? Some experts would argue so, and it’s studies like the one conducted by Frances E Kup, PhD, and Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD that give them the evidence. They found that spending time away from technology actually helped reduce any type of ADHD symptoms in children. So if you think your kid just can’t sit still, take them out into the wild and have them find their way home – call it survival training!

Hiking In Nature Is Great Exercise And Therefore Boosts Brainpower

We already know that exercising is fantastic for our overall well-being. Hiking is an excellent way to burn between 400 – 700 calories per hour, depending on your size and the hike difficulty, and it is easier on the joints than other activities like running. It has also been proven that people who exercise outside are more likely to keep at it and stick to their programs, making hiking an excellent choice for those wishing to become more active on a regular basis.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia 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 improves memory loss, but helps prevent it as well. Researchers also found that it can also reduce stress and anxiety, boost self esteem, and release endorphins. Many people take medication to solve each and every one of these issues, but the solution to these ills may be a lot simpler than you think!

So there you have it! Now get out there and start hiking! Enjoy nature, breathe in the fresh air and mental clarity will simply follow 🙂

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