5 Great Benefits of Hiking for Mental and Emotional Health
Mental/ Emotional Health Benefits of Hiking
If you have a persistent mental condition like anxiety, depression, or other issues; coping with everyday life can make you feel drained and worse, alone. Performing your everyday routine, like merely getting out of your bed or walking for exercise can seem like an insurmountable task, but the thing about health is to actually do that–to keep going.
Fortunately, once you are ready, you can become healthier both physically and mentally by just getting up on your feet to exercise. You can try hiking for mental and emotional health, for instance.
Hiking for Good Health
Hiking can sound a bit daunting, but the truth is, hiking doesn’t need to be extreme. All it takes is putting on a good pair of shoes and getting out of your door to walk. You also don’t have to go through hills or mountains to trek–as long as you get a good view of some trees, fields, or other greenery (even just grass), then you’re good to go.
If you’re already living with major depression, it can be hard to determine what is making you depressed because, often, depression is not situational or it’s source may not come from an external cause. There are common instances that a person’s depression is affected by his/her food or diet and physiology.
Recommended book: A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives.
Good thing, you can easily reap the mental health benefits of hiking just by putting on your pair of trainers and going outside to walk. Below are 5 of the best mental/ emotional health benefits of hiking.
The 5 Psychological Benefits of Hiking
(Walking or Hiking for Mental and Emotional Health)
1. Exercise for overall healthy mind and body.
Hiking could just be the best exercise–and treatment–for you. In many known cases, walking or hiking produced health benefits as effective as medicine. In the book called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, the author shows how exercising can be a great alternative or supplement to medical treatments.
Furthermore, it shows that exercising doesn’t just benefit the body but also your psychological and/or emotional well-being.
2. Better mental/ emotional state, reduced stress.
Because hiking or walking can give you space, a sense of peace, and a time to free your mind, it helps greatly improve your mental and emotional health. When you hike, you are also able to work out problems better in your mind as you escape from the daily irritants and distractions of your life.
Hiking or walking, especially outdoors with Mother Nature, works wonders akin to taking a short vacation for your body, heart, and mind.
3. Stops rumination and obsessive thoughts.
According to the study called Nature, outdoor activities or any nature or environment-related activities greatly reduce thought rumination which is linked with a person’s tendency to develop mental illness.
Walking with views of Mother Nature indeed significantly decreases negative repetitive, obsessive thinking habits.
4. Lessens ADHD
Another study entitled A Potential Natural Treatment for Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence From a National Study–also concluded that children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) also showed significant improvement or reduction of their symptoms after getting into the habit of hiking.
Hiking has helped provide so many new benefits to mental health that experts are now starting to prescribe it as a supplementary treatment for ADHD and chronic depression.
5. Better creativity and problem solving skills
On the other hand, the study called Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings also revealed that regular hikers also acquire better ability to creatively solve problems.
As you spend more time with Mother Nature, you get to reduce mental fatigue, sparking your problem-solving skills creatively.
Leave that phone behind!
Several experts have successfully discovered how getting outdoors is a better method for treating mental health issues compared to simple exercises at home, at the gym, or simply indoors. However constantly checking your cellphone while hiking outdoors isn’t much of a benefit either. The goal is to relax, unwind, and get away from the daily stresses of life, so unplug for a awhile so you can free your mind.
Note that current studies show that by simply unplugging your device, you get to alleviate your stress and symptoms of ADHD and depression. So commit to taking regular hikes now and make sure to leave that cellphone behind!
A bonus! See this comprehensive infographic on the mental and emotional health benefits of hiking:
INFOGRAPHIC: 29 Health Benefits of Hiking You Can’t Live Without (From smarthikr.com)