Numerous researches have already established the direct correlation between exercise and mental wellbeing. And although all kinds of physical activity are beneficial to the brain, the exercise or activity that is performed outdoor can increase the rewards. And when you can combine the exercise with incredible sightseeing like hiking, the rewards can double.
Here’s why students need to get away from screens and go for hiking whenever they can. All you need is to find a hiking trail, get yourself a good pair of hiking shoes and you are ready for an adventure of a lifetime.
Release and Production of Serotonin
Hiking can instantly uplift one’s mood. Most people tend to find their daily trips to the gym rather monotonous and tend to skip them daily. But since hiking is more of an adventurous activity, people generally look forward to it. It has proven to be beneficial even for the most traumatized individuals, like military veterans or sexual assault survivors. This is due to the ample amounts of serotonin, the happy hormone that is released and produced by hiking. Although, most physical activities tend to do the same, but they are also more daunting and physically challenging.
Improved Cognitive Function
With the increased reserves of serotonin, people can become more focused, delay gratification by pulling through their tasks and achieving their goals, they tend to be less irritable and have less negative thoughts. Most psychologists now suggest that their patients resort to hiking before they take supplements for their mental ailments. And it is proven that hiking can boost creativity and problem solving skills; making an individual more mentally competent.
Moreover, hiking itself can instill a sense of accomplishment and can be a very rewarding experience, especially if you can pick different location for hiking from time to time. It can also be a great social activity when down with groups or family.
Hiking Helps Reconnect with Nature
Humans, just like animals, cannot function effectively if they are cut off from their connection with nature. But our busy schedules and digitally dependent lifestyles confine us to our cubicles and apartment blocks – only to make us more stressed, depressed and anxious. Even though all forms of physical exercise, as mentioned above, can improve our serotonin stores. But hiking helps uplift our mood while making us reconnect with nature. The overall experience is a more liberating one that does not make exercising a cumbersome task; instead it can be taken as an exciting adventure that instills inquisitiveness and decreases mental clutter.
Studies have shown that hiking, whether it is at countryside or a snowcapped hill has nourishing benefits for the brain. It not only helps with improving one’s orientation, but also improves blood flow by transporting fresh oxygen.
Hiking Targets More Areas within the Brain
As opposed to jogging on flat terrain, hiking provides a fairly challenging and dynamic environment to engage all parts of your brain and body. One does not only work on pumping their calf and core muscles, but they also increase brain activity associated with balance and coordination. Brain, just like a muscle strengthens once its flexed frequently. Thus, with physical exercise that increase activity and blood flow to areas that are usually dormant allows an overall increase in brainpower.
Furthermore, the purpose of exercise is also to improve brain health, which is often overlooked by most gym enthusiasts – who are more focused on sculpting a more aesthetically pleasing body. But hiking not only helps with increase the tone of your core and calf muscles, but also increases blood flow to your brain. This is crucial for our mental health, since our heart must pump harder to transport sufficient amount of blood to the upper compartment of our body, that too against gravity. But since most of the time our body tends to conserve energy, our brain remains deprived of fresh blood supply. Hence, perpetually shutting down smaller capillaries and subsequently areas of our cortex as well! Hiking helps pump blood to these areas by opening up smaller capillaries and decreasing the risk of stroke. This is quite unlike the conventional, targeting exercises that are carried out in the gym.
The much needed time away from the screens
With Internet Addiction Disorder on the rise, hiking has been recommended by doctors as a gateway from your devices. One does not need to go on expensive trips to beaches at Bali or California, but you can simply go on a hike to your local park simply with a backpack. Keeping up this practice even once a week will help you stay motivated and will increase more mental space to think and reflect on yourself. Moreover, it will also decrease the ailments that accompany IAD, like ADHD, neuroticism and profound hopelessness.
The bottom line is that hiking is not a conventional form of exercise and accounts for several health benefits. Implementing it in your daily routine can be very beneficial for you in the long run.