Hiking Benefits for Body and Soul
It is common sense that exercises such as hiking have positive effects on basically every aspect of our body. Enjoying a short hike regularly can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and help to prevent type II diabetes. But regular hikes or walks outside also have a huge impact on our mental health, allowing us to switch off from stressful thoughts and think more rationally.
The scenery matters
Hiking in a countryside environment involves increased mental benefits, compared to walking through concrete areas. The risk of mental illness is, therefore, higher for people living in urban areas. Having access to natural areas every now and then is vital for mental health, according to a study by PNAS.
It is proven that spending time in nature increases your creativity by up to 50%, especially when it comes to problem-solving tasks. Walking in nature also enhances your memory and helps to stay focused.
No bad vibes
People tend to over-analyse; nature hikes reduce the likelihood of overthinking and decrease the number of negative thoughts. Furthermore, it helps to prevent stress and depression, and, simultaneously, makes us happier!
Areas without WiFi or cellular data may have become rare nowadays. Nevertheless, it is beneficial for the human mind to unplug from the world from time to time. Wandering through areas without internet helps to reduce the negative effects of mental fatigue resulting from over-use of technology.
Although mobile maps can be life-saving in certain situations, it is good to lose track once in a while. Whenever we hike a trail for the first time or stumble upon a gem of a natural feature, we return home with a revived appreciation for mother nature. Go off the beaten path and explore nature!
As simple as it sounds, research shows that people connect with themselves and with nature in a certain way that leads to inner peace and a sense of well-being, increases positive emotions, strengthens the sense of gratefulness and increases your generosity towards those around you.
Mindful walking, also known as walking meditation, can be a way to find yourself. It is a technique that incorporates the concept of mindfulness by paying attention to your breath and focus on bodily sensations.
As a positive side-effect, hiking is a powerful cardio workout. It strengthens the core, as well as your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs. Furthermore, reaching the peak or the goal of a trail boosts our confidence.
Mental health is a growing issue in society. But through nature, there are ways to reduce risks of depression and mental health issues. Doctors in Scotland, for example, have even started issuing “nature prescriptions” to patients to treat chronic illnesses. This includes walks in nature and bird watching. Hiking can be a healing, spiritual and rejuvenating experience.