Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

Slowly but surely, people are coming back to nature and realize the positive benefits it brings. While some choose cycling, swimming or skiing as a way to reconnect with nature, studies are particularly focused on the benefits of hiking. Yes, as it seems, hiking is one of the best ways to stimulate our brains, thus changing them for the better.

What is it that makes hiking so successful and beneficial in the first place? More importantly, how did studies reveal that our brain changes as soon as we hit the trails? Let’s find out in the article below.

Hiking Helps Clear the Mind and Refocus

One of the perks of hiking is not just physical activity, but the way hiking affects your brain. When you go for a hike, all negative thoughts seem to fade. Studies actually proved that detoxifying the brain of negativity is best done while hiking in nature. One particular study, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explained how hiking helps eliminate toxic behavior, obsessing and overthinking.

The study mainly focused on making comparisons between participants who hiked in nature and those who hiked in a more urban environment. The first group, or the nature hikers, needed only 90 minutes to recharge their brain and change their perception. At the same time, these subjects showed a decreased activity of the brain area responsible for developing mental illnesses.

To the contrary, hikers who only moved in urban areas did not saw the benefits of this activity. From here, the study concluded that hiking matters just as much as the environment itself. If the hiking terrain is more familiar and known, it can spark up feelings of depression. Moreover, hiking in nature delivers a far better brain stimulation.

Hiking without Gadgets Increases Problem Solving Skills

One study, conducted by Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer, explains how hiking positively affects creativity. At the same time, the researchers found that hiking without using electronic devices can drastically improve your survival skills and give you a clearer head.

The study was done on participants who hiked for four days, without using any electronic or tech devices. Instead, they underwent a series of creativity-provoking activities. The study finally concluded that everyone in the study increased their problem-solving skills by staggering 50%.

Hiking Helps ADHD Treatment in Kids

ADHD, or also known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, affects more children today than ever before. ADHD manifests in children who are unable to concentrate and who have self-control issues and way too much energy to use.

However, instead of a traditional treatment, studies now urge parents to take their ADHD-affected children hiking. Frances E Kup, and Andrea Faber Taylor, both PhD. creators of the study, explained how children with ADHD benefit a lot from just walking in nature. This exposure to nature in a physical way helped ADHD children regain control over their mind.

Hiking Is a Super Food for Your Brain

Hiking is among the best brain performance enhancers of the day. With hiking, you maximize your workout as well and spend around 400–700 calories an hour. Hiking is not as demanding as other workouts, which relaxes the brain and actually makes you enjoy the physical activity.

A recent study supporting this claim was conducted by the University of British Columbia. The study found that a cardio workout such as hiking stimulates the brain area in charge of spatial and episodic memory in ladies older than 70. This exercise was proven successful for memory boosting, healthy weight loss and eliminating stress and anxiety.

How to Start Your Own Hiking Journey?

If you want to give hiking a try, but don’t know how to begin, always go small. A walk on a nearby hillside or down a river can be a great starting point. Challenge yourself to think positively, and push your body to succeed. Outdoor hiking is also recommended, but make sure you find the proper equipment for it.

Along with hiking, help your brain revitalize by hydrating at all times and learning proper breathing. Hiking is a rewarding practice, without seeming too demanding, and if you love nature and a having a piece of mind, you just found it.



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