By now we all know that a walk in the outdoors is a healthy form of exercise. Doctors in Scotland have even started prescribing it for chronic illnesses. But what influence do the health benefits of hiking actually have on our minds? And why? On World Mental Health Day 2019, Hillwalk Tours had a look at the facts.
Exercise is beneficial for basically every aspect of our bodies, but a short walk outside or a regular hike can have a huge impact on our mental health, allowing us to switch off from stressful thoughts and think more rationally, all while being at one with nature! Here’s how hiking can encourage positive mental health:
The Benefits of Hiking – Mental Aspects
Clear Your Mind
Hiking through a natural environment is more effective than simply taking a stroll through the city.
While any sort of walking certainly has physical health benefits, walking through nature has the addition of mental health benefits.
Hiking in a countryside environment offers increased mental benefits over walking through built-up areas.
In addition, hiking seems to reduce the effect of the part of your brain that brings about bad moods.
Boost Your Brain
You don’t need to be suffering from mental health issues to receive a hike-induced boost for the brain.
Research shows that people who spend more time in nature, and less time with technology, are up to 50% more creative when it comes to problem-solving tasks.
Moreover, regular walkers and hikers have a better memory than those who don’t go out in to nature that often.
Regular closeness to nature can even restore cognitive functions, like memory and focus.
Improve Your Outlook
Rumination is the tendency that some people have to over-analyse their own negative emotions and experiences.
One of the benefits of hiking is that it reduces the likelihood that one will over-think these experience.
The diverse scenery of forests, mountains, streets and beaches is a lot more fascinating than the walls of the average gym, so it’s not hard to imagine that a walk through nature – or even the park – makes us feel so much happier.
Unplug From The World
Hiking provides a welcome break from the feeling of always being ‘switched-on’.
We’re constantly staring at screens and checking our phones, always plugged in to the network of the world.
Wandering where there is no WiFi can really help to relieve the effects of the mental fatigue that technology inevitable brings.
- Read more about how you can de-stress on one of our hiking tours in Ireland, Scotland, England and Spain.