Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

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We are all familiar with the benefits of walking and hiking: many people claim that these activities literally breathe new life into humans.  Still, you might be sort of taken aback by the particular benefit which doctors have come up with!

1. Hiking halts negative thinking

Positive thinking is one of the most outstanding benefits associated with hiking. According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, spending time outdoors reduces the number of negative thoughts that most people experience in general. As a matter of fact, those who walked for about 90 minutes also experienced reduced activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, associated to mental illness. On the flip side, those who walked through an urban area experienced no change in this type of neural activity.

2. Hiking without technology enhances creativity and problem-solving skills

A study done by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Straye has found that connecting with nature enhances creativity and problem-solving skills.  In this particular research, the subjects spent 4 days without using any technological devices, and they experienced a 50 percent increase in problem-solving skills as a result.

3. Hiking reduces ADHD in children

According to a research done by Frances E Kup, Ph.D., and Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D., engaging in “green outdoor activities” regularly greatly reduces the symptoms of ADHD in children.  Most importantly, this activity doesn’t come with any side effects which prescription drugs do.

4. Hiking increases brain power in general

A research conducted by scientists at the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise boosts hippocampal volume, the section of the brain associated with episodic and spatial memory.  So, it`s no wonder that hiking prevents memory loss, in addition to reducing it.  Ultimately, it was also found that this simple exercise reduces anxiety and stress while boosting the release of endorphins and enhancing self-esteem.

5. Hiking can be an additional therapy tool

According to a 2012 study, mounting hiking combined with seeing a mental health professional helps relieve the mental health disorder symptoms.  People at high risk for suicide reported having fewer suicidal thoughts after hiking.

Getting started

Fortunately, hiking is very cheap do to and it can be done virtually anywhere and by anyone of any age.  It is recommended to begin by walking through a nearby park and work your way up to more challenging treks.   You can use some of the smartphones apps to locate and reap all the opportunities nearby.   Note that your cell phone has to be turned off to optimize the overall benefits.

If it is within your financial means, get some hiking boots or shoes,   a hat to keep you out of sun, and a bottle to keep you hydrated.  It is also recommended to wear a backpack and dress in layers in order stay comfortable.  Ultimately, you can also invest in hiking poles to reduce the pressure on your knees.

That would be it! You are ready to get started!

Sources:

http://irelease.org/doctors-explain-how-hiking-actually-changes-our-brains/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hiking-benefits_us_59553eaee4b0da2c73221079

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