Home Health Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains!

Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains!

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It might seem as such a cliché to say that exercising is important, but now, it is scientifically proven that hiking in nature can actually change our brain!

And the best part is that it doesn’t take too much time or energy, so even people who are overweight or too busy, don’t have any excuses not to do it on a regular basis, as it can truly make a positive difference in everyone’s life!

No more obsessive thoughts and stress!

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature significantly decreases negative and obsessive thoughts.

Namely, when we are hiking in a rural environment, we have the opportunity to reconnect with nature, to be present in the moment and to clear our minds. Constant worry and stress can lead to depression, anxiety, ADHD and many other mental illnesses.

However, doctors claim that if we spend at least 150 min. per week in nature we can change our thoughts and behavior in a positive way even when we get back to working or other everyday activities. 

Moreover, another study, conducted by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer showed that creative problem solving can be drastically improved by both disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature.

The participants in the study were hiking in nature for 4 days and they were not allowed to use any kind of technology during the experiment.

They were asked to perform tasks which require creative thinking and complex problem solving and the results of the study showed that the participants’ abilities when performing on problem solving tasks improved by 50%. 

Constant urban noise combined with technology can lead to poor cognitive functions, while a long hike without any technology can soothe the mind and boost creative thinking, while lowering stress levels.

Hiking reduces ADHD symptoms in children and boosts brainpower!

Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming more and more common among children every day. Due to “over consuming” technology and fast paced life, many children are suffering from lack of concentration and focus, they get distracted easily and they exhibit excessive hyperactivity. 

Many parents turn to drugs as a solution, but the problem can also be solved by spending more time in nature according to a study conducted by Frances E Kup, PhD, and Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD.

Namely, exposing children to “green outdoor activities” significantly decreases the symptoms of ADHD, children exhibit less impulsive behavior and they are able to focus more on given tasks. 

Furthermore, hiking is also linked to increasing the hippocampal volume — the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory, thus improving and preventing memory loss. 

Hiking promotes feelings of well being and it boosts weight loss!

That is right! A study conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia showed that hiking reduces stress and anxiety, boosts self esteem and helps release endorphins (the happy hormones).

Moreover, this type of aerobic exercise is an excellent way to lose 400-700 calories depending on the hike difficulty and your weight. So not only will you lose weight, you will also feel happier and better about yourself! 

Other benefits from hiking are:

  • It boosts the metabolism
  • It prevents diabetes
  • It strengthens bones and improves bone density
  • It prevents cardiovascular diseases
  • It increases energy levels
  • It lowers the risk of cancer
  • It relieves back pain
  • It provides us with the daily dose of vitamin D, due to sun exposure 
  • It tones the muscles
  • It prevents and even cures insomnia

For these and many other benefits, it is highly suggested to make hiking a part of your daily routine! Even if you don’t have the time to do it every day, just try downloading some map applications on you phone so that you can find various trails around your home and hike as much as you can.

Doing it even once or twice a week will do a positive change in your life!

So go ahead, forget about technology and social media for awhile, take a hike and feel the positive difference!

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