(NaturalNews) The next time someone tells you to take a hike, don’t be offended – do it! Your mental well-being and overall health will thank you.
By know, we all know that exercise is a great way to keep weight in check, but it’s also an ideal way to boost mental clarity, fend of depression and reduce anxiety. Why turn to Big Pharma drugs that promise to do the same, when you can take a walk in nature and improve your health, minus the high costs and terrible side effects?
In fact, studies have proven that hiking provides tremendous health benefits.
One such study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that, compared to people who walked for 90 minutes in an urban environment, those who walked for that same amount of time in a natural environment reported lowered levels of persistent negative thoughts.
In addition to this decrease in rumination, those who hiked in the natural environment also experienced reduced neural activity in the part of the brain that’s associated with mental illness. Therefore, it’s both the act of hiking and the location where one hikes that is important; in this particular study, immersing oneself in nature and taking time to leave urban settings was found to increase psychological and physical health, including reductions in depression and other kinds of mental illness.
The published study, which notes that 70 percent of people are projected to live in urban areas by 2050, states that talking a “90-min walk through a natural environment… may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world.”
The study also states the following: “We show in healthy participants that a brief nature experience, a 90-min walk in a natural setting, decreases both self-reported rumination and neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex (sgPFC), whereas a 90-min walk in an urban setting has no such effects on self-reported rumination or neural activity.”
Other studies have also demonstrated the health benefits of hiking.
For example, psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that when people disconnect from technology and get in touch with nature instead, they reap rewards from a creative problem-solving standpoint. These experts discovered that people who went backbacking in nature for approximately four days – without any use of technology – experienced a 50 percent improved ability to solve creative thinking tasks.
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