Hiking and spending time in nature has become more and more popular in recent years. It’s fun, a great experience, and you can take amazing photos. There are so many reasons why people are gravitating towards this sport. Recent studies have tested why that is. The results – remarkable health benefits, both physically and mentally! After all, nothing is more refreshing than a bit of fresh air. So whether you’re looking to lose weight, increase your cardiovascular fitness, or simply clear your head, hiking has proven to be beneficial. Here are 5 benefits of hiking:
1. Hiking makes you happy and wards off depression
According to a 2014 Stanford University study, quoted in the LA Times, hiking can “improve your mood, decrease your anxiety and even improve your memory”. The articles says that spending time walking around in nature can lead to “measurable benefits for the brain, and may help combat depression”. A study done by PNAS found that although hiking anywhere is good for the body, being in a natural environment is more beneficial.
2. Hiking helps you solve problems and think more creatively
Einstein walked on the beach when he needed to work out problems. Steve Jobs preferred to have “walking meetings”. Tchaikovsky took a walk every morning before creating his masterpieces. There is a link between walking and hiking to creativity. Studies suggest hiking boosts brain power and makes you more creative. City life is full of distractions and in turn, you may feel drained out at times. Whenever you feel that way, it is time to get into nature and hike. A study published in PLOS-ONE shows that being in nature can heal overused brain parts. Specifically, in an experiment involved in the study, a group of people had shown improvement by 50 percent simply by hiking and disconnecting with all forms of technology for just 4 days. Walking is a good habit to have, while hiking in nature is even more beneficial as it creates different thought patterns and lowers levels of anxiety and rumination.
3. Hiking boosts memory
Several studies show that walking in nature improves short-term memory. In one study at the University of Michigan, students were asked to take a memory test before going to take a walk. The group who walked around an arboretum scored almost 20% better on the memory test after their walk. The group who walked around the city did not improve.
4. Hiking improves your physical health
Hiking may be considered as soft core exercise. However, hiking is one of the best ways to improve your health, especially heart health. Hiking is a great form of cardio. Daily or weekly hiking can improve circulation, prevent high blood pressure, keep your weight in check, improve cholesterol and help you quit smoking. The best part – hiking can be as simple as walking around a local park or forest area. It doesn’t have to be strenuous; as long as you are outdoors, in nature, and getting your heart-rate up, you will reap the physical benefits.
5. Hiking gives you opportunities to forge relationships
Hiking could be the most “healthy” quality time that you can spend with your loved ones. First of all, staying healthy “together” is always a good thing. Secondly, hiking together creates positive memories to look back on. And positive memories strengthen relationships. While hiking, you are forced to put your phones down, share stories, tell a couple of jokes, and have fun interacting with each other. What better way to spend time with some friends, your family, or even a date?