Many of us enjoy getting out for a hike in the great outdoors, but there may be more benefits to it than simply getting up and moving around. Although we may never really think much about it, researchers have found that getting out on a hike may be the ticket to more than a better body, it may be the ticket to a better brain.
According to recent studies, hiking and being out in nature can have a direct effect on your mental and psychological aspect of your brain. There’s been a considerable amount of research in this regard, mainly because most people spend much less time outdoors than they did 20 years ago. On average, only 6% of American children play outside on any given week. On the other hand, they do spend an average of eight hours per day playing video games and watching television.
So how can you benefit by getting some time in the great outdoors? Once you learn the benefits, you may just find that it is much easier to get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer.
Nature Helps to Clear the Head
According to a recent study, a 90 minute walk through a natural environment had a huge positive impact on the participants. Those individuals tended to worry less in comparison with those who took a 90 minute walk through the city. When they did brain scans on those subjects, they found that the prefrontal cortex was experiencing a decreased blood flow. That also is positive news, because excessive blood flow to the prefrontal cortex typically dilutes a bad mood.
Unplugging Helps Your Creativity
In a 2012 study by two psychologists, individuals on a four-day hike with no access to technology scored 50% higher on the Remote Associates Test (RAT). The RAT measures the creative potential in people. 50% is a huge leap according to research standards.
Hiking Helps You Focus
According to a 2004 study, individuals who have ADHD and go on a hike experience far fewer symptoms. Anyone can benefit from an increase in focus in a similar way, regardless of their age or health.
Recharge Your Batteries
The exercise associated with hiking is fairly substantial. Not only is it good for the waistline, it can help to improve your memory as well. Studies have even been done to show how hiking could help seniors ward off dementia. Hiking seems to work by increasing your ability to store information along with reducing memory loss.
Feel Positive about Yourself
A 2010 study reported in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology reported that even a five minute stretch in nature can help to upgrade your self-esteem. Spending the entire day outdoors can result in an additional jump upward. If you walk near the water, it seems to have the greatest effect so try to plan that into your next hike.
Is going out for a hike the solution to all of life’s problems? Probably not, but it can certainly help to point you in the right direction. If you already hike, keep doing it but if you have yet to start, grab yourself a pair of comfortable boots and head to the trail.
Be sure to share this important information with others