Hiking for mental health

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Kit_Kat, Dec 24, 2015.

  1. Kit_Kat

    Kit_Kat New Member

    I read an article today saying that walking, in nature specifically, helps cease anxiety and rumination. Rumination is defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on the negative aspects of yourself. I do have a lot of negative thoughts where I rehash things from the past that were hurtful or embarrassing, and have always found a walk in nature to be very helpful with that. I love to hike and backpack, have since I was a kid, and I love that this hobby is so beneficial! The way that they did the study was extremely interesting as well- along with a questionnaire, the participants also had their brains scanned with a neural imaging technique that allowed the researchers to measure how much blood was flowing through the subgenual prefontal cortex, which is an area of the brain that lights up when a person engages in rumination. The article is from Los Angeles Times if anyone is interested! The article does date back to July 2015, but still an interesting read for people who love to hike or those who experience rumination at all.
    Toph1978 likes this.
  2. mild_peril

    mild_peril New Member

    I haven't hiked for a while, but I love walking full stop. And although I haven't read any of the studies you may be referring to, I can say that in my own experience it's true that walking and hiking can absolutely help to ease and refocus your mind, especially amongst nature and away from the towns and cities.

    I've been promising myself that I would go hiking more over the past couple of years, but I'm going to make an extra effort this year to get a backpack and go on an adventure.
  3. thaddeus

    thaddeus Member

    Really anything nature involved works for me. Trail riding on a bike, hiking, or anything related is a very nice relaxing workout.
  4. Remollino1022

    Remollino1022 New Member

    I haven't read the studies you're referring to but I have to say I agree 100% with it. The calming factor of nature helps to keep you grounded and is relaxing in and of itself. And the physical exercise is helpful to calm your body and mind too. Hiking is great for the whole mind & body.
  5. MeAgain

    MeAgain New Member

    I just got into hiking about a year ago, and now I can't get enough of it. Not only is it a good workout, but there is so many options for you as far as where to go, how hard/long the trail is, who you go with, and what you can see. It's fun, and a social workout. I agree with the posts above that it is calming as well and really good for the cardiovascular system. I heavily endorse getting into it if you are looking for something new.
  6. Mhar

    Mhar New Member

    This is very true. Last year we traversed Mt Arayat in central Luzon, Philippines where I experienced the best workout ever - not only improved my stamina but also relaxed my mind. I can still remember the beauty of the forest and of course the steepness of the mountain. It's really fun and memorable adventure.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2016
  7. Nicoledawn

    Nicoledawn New Member

    Hiking is by far the most therapeutic hobby I participate in. I live at the foot of the Appalachian mountains and am very grateful for the opportunity to hike when I please. I believe that we all need nature to reset our soul.
  8. SNI_PER

    SNI_PER New Member

    Hiking is definitely great for mental health. Not only are you getting exercise, which is crucial to mental health, but you also get a nice break from cellphones, computers, buildings, and people. I find that nature is the best place for meditation, so there's another benefit. I particularly like hiking up in Santa Paula to the punch bowls, it's a lengthy hike, but when you reach your destination, you are rewarded with natural pools to swim in, and there's even a natural slide at the very top. I highly recommend this hike to anyone in California. :):)
  9. gennyp

    gennyp New Member

    Hiking is one of my favorite things to do. I agree it can be a great help for mental health. Having a bit of anxiety myself, I find that a hike quiets my mind and helps me focus and feel good. Even just a short walk outside during a crazy stressful day at work is helpful.

    A hike is a great way to balance your body and mind in my opinion. You can really get a great physical and mental boost from it. I recommend grabbing a buddy and searching out different places to hike wherever you live.
  10. David Wei

    David Wei New Member

    I find that not only hiking, but really any physical activity that allows one to be in nature for extended periods of time is therapeutic. I believe that this connects to our roots as humans. We will never be able to disassociate ourselves from nature. Additionally, the long periods of time with no stimulus like emails or text messages can be relieving to the brain. It allows the brain to wander off into whatever tangent it wants to.
  11. Karind01

    Karind01 New Member

    I believe any form of exercise has a phenomenal impact on your mental state. Physical exercise stimulates the release of good endorphin's and hormones and this results in a more tranquil mindset.
  12. bluebetta

    bluebetta New Member

    I thoroughly enjoy a good hike in nature. I am lucky enough to live near a national forest with many beautiful trails. When the honks and sirens of city traffic are replaced with the sounds of song birds and rustling breezes, the relaxation that ensues is almost instantaneous. The exercise involved in hiking would also help reduce levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. There could be many psychological and physiological benefits to hiking in nature. I would love to read more about the studies you are referring to.
  13. abilicious84

    abilicious84 New Member

    Walking is great for the psyche and for your overall mental heath. Any exercise produces chemicals in the brain that raises our serotonin levels, and thus, produces a natural euphoric feeling throughout your body. This in turn reverses the effects that depression can have on our body and minds, and hiking gives us a bonus of vitamin d from the sun, which also helps aid in helping a person with their depression.
  14. Kimberly Leventhal

    Kimberly Leventhal New Member

    I suffer from depression and anxiety. Hiking is a healthy way to keep the "demons" at bay. A lot of it is the endorphins you get from the workout. The surroundings are also very peaceful most of the time. A lot of people who don't take medicines and want to treat the mental disorder naturally need a form of exercise to calm the depressing thoughts down. Hiking is a healthy way to do it. It also helps you lose weight. A big thing with anxiety is you can form an unhealthy eating habit. Hiking can help keep it at bay.
  15. glenpolbo13

    glenpolbo13 New Member

    I do hike a lot. There is something fulfilling once you've tried hiking. Its not about the destination but is the beauty of nature that rewards you from the struggles and path that will you experiencing. Hiking outdoors has plenty of perks: nice views, fresh air, and the sounds and smells of nature. It's good for you, too. Hiking is a powerful cardio workout.
    • Lower your risk of heart disease
    • Improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
    • Boost bone density.
    • Build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
    • Strengthen your core
    • Improve balance
    • Help control your weight
    • Boost your mood.
  16. rosebud1

    rosebud1 New Member

    It have a lot of sense. You stop thinking about yourself an start seeing what surrounds you. If you make an habit of that you can forget your bad thoughs
  17. romilda

    romilda Member

    Yes, it will relieve you from thinking problems but enjoy with the group of hikers.
  18. Warren1967

    Warren1967 Well-Known Member

    I would like to try hiking because I need to get some peace of mind.
  19. assisidiane

    assisidiane New Member

    My brother hikes once in a while. He actually wanted me to try it because he told me that it can actually ease your mind and the air up there is so fresh that you don't really want to get down anymore. It will also improve your physical health so I believe it will really boost your mental health. Just try to warm yourself up so that your body won't get surprised by the weight of the hike you'll get.
  20. Megroxy

    Megroxy Member

    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.

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