Doctors have officially proven hiking makes you happy and healthy. The vast health benefits of spending time in nature, while engaged in physical activity, are undeniable. Multiple studies have cited reduction in negative thoughts, depression and ADHD as a result. They have also proven an increase in creative thinking, self esteem and memory retention.
Study 1: Hiking Makes You Happy
In one study, a group of doctors wanted to know if hiking in nature would help reduce a busy mind. They wanted to compare this to hiking in an urban environment because of the increase of urbanization. The researchers found that hiking makes you happy. Concluding, they stated the following:
“Participants who went on a 90-min walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness compared with those who walked through an urban environment.” (Source)
Study 2: Immersion in Nature Improves Cognitive Function
In another study, researchers focused on technology and urban noise. They wanted to know how these stimulants are effecting our cognitive functions and creativity. Thus, the subjects of this study were sent out on a four-day backpacking trip through nature with no access to technology. The results were dramatic:
“We show that four days of immersion in nature, and the corresponding disconnection from multi-media and technology, increases performance on a creativity, problem-solving task by a full 50% in a group of naive hikers.” (Source)
Study 3: Green Spaces Reduce ADHD Symptoms
Over the last several years we have seen a great surge in ADHD diagnosis in children. Research, conducted by the University of Illinois, has proven that physical activity in green spaces reduces the symptoms of ADHD significantly. In this study, doctors looked at kids’ weekend activities in green settings versus indoor settings. They concluded:
“In this national, non-probability sample, green outdoor activities reduced symptoms significantly more than did activities conducted in other settings, even when activities were matched across settings. Findings were consistent across age, gender, and income groups; community types; geographic regions; and diagnoses.” (Source)
Those of us who consistently spend time in green spaces have an inner knowing of its “magic.” It often gives us an immediate sense of calm. It invites a peacefulness that relaxes our soul, allowing us to breath more deeply and freely. Pairing green spaces with movement can have life changing effects, as researchers have now proven. So strap on your hiking shoes and get outside!
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