If you are an experienced hiker, you have probably felt healthy after a finished hike. Now scientists have proven that hiking is not only good for your physical health, but for your mental health as well.
Hiking in Nature Calms
People who like to hike know the calming feeling nature can induce in yourself. There has now been done research showing the positive health effects of going hiking. Most of us today are living in an urban environment and have lost touch with nature. The study asked whether or not hiking in nature is good for your mental health.
The study showed that it lowered the amount of ruminating and negative thoughts of oneself which is a known risk factor for mental illnesses. Furthermore, this effect was not found when people walked through an urban environment. This means that access to nature can be important to sustain good mental health.
Replenish Mental Capacity
Another study showed that being in nature replenishes your mental capacity for attention and that the current lifestyle of people being occupied with using computers and phones is taxing for the prefrontal cortex that is used to direct our attention, and yet another study showed that spending time in nature has also been shown to help against ADHD in children. So to conclude, there is a lot of health benefits to exercise and especially when doing it in nature. Therefore, if you are interested in improving your health, hiking should be an activity to consider for sure.
Doctors are Prescribing Hiking
Doctors have now begun prescribing “nature therapy” to people to cure stress, improving mood and help with depression among other things. They even found that walking for only 5 minutes in some kind of natural environment reduces depression in 71% of participants. Moreover, a university is offering a bachelor's degree in “eco-therapy”.
Big Goals Start With Baby Steps
If you want to get started with hiking, it’s probably not best if you start with a hike in Mount Everest or Matterhorn, but to instead begin small by going for easy hikes in the area or just begin talking walks, depending on your current level of course. Remember the words of Lao Tzu, that even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.