Four Ways That Hiking Makes You Happier and Smarter

Posted on: September 10, 2017

You probably know that hiking is a lot of fun and it’s obviously good for your body, but what about your mind? Researchers are increasingly finding that nature and physical activity has a huge benefit for your mental health, creativity and mental acuity.

Hiking Makes You Happier

A study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that ‘nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Rumination is defined as ‘repetitive thought focused on negative aspects of the self’—negative self-talk or worrying about problems. The subgenual prefrontal cortex is an area of the brain linked to risk of mental illness, specifically depression and anxiety. The interesting thing is: the effects only happen in nature—walking through urban environments don’t produce the same effects.

Nature Makes You More Creative

Creativity isn’t a single thing, but a combination of focus, problem-solving, inhibition and multi-tasking, all of which are improved by immersion in nature. Another study shows that hiking in nature, and leaving your phone at home, increases problem-solving abilities by 50%. It was also found that urban noise- the car horns and dogs barking that are a constant aural accompaniment to living in the city- prevents us focusing and therefore stifles creativity.

Going Outdoors Can Reduce ADHD in Children

It has been found that ‘green outdoor activities reduced symptoms (of ADHD) more than did activities conducted in other settings. Even performing the same activities in a natural setting that you would in an urban setting has significantly better effects in the long and short-term.

Exercise In General Increases Brain Power

University of British Columbia research shows that exercise is a ‘promising strategy’ for combating Mild Cognitive Impairment, a major risk factor for dementia later in life. Exercise increases the size of your hippocampus, the part of your brain that consolidates information from the short-term to the long-term memory.

Our website has tonnes of information on hiking in Alberta and the Lakeland region, including maps of the thousands of miles of trails running through the area. If you want to try something a little different, there’s also information on geocaching and hunting. With the last few weeks left before the snow starts falling it’s a great time to get out into nature.

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