Exercises

Hiking For Health – 5 Benefits of Taking a Nature Walk

Hiking For Health - 5 Benefits of Taking a Nature Walk

A nature walk is a chance to rest overstimulated modern minds. It helps lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress. It helps you to relax. Spending time in the world of nature brings peace and can be a very effective therapeutic supplement to managing stress.

To go on a nature-walk, find a park nearby or take off on a long weekend to find one. A suburban flood plain or a city park will do the trick.  Wear comfortable, protective clothes and shoes. Beginners should not go on an intensive hike immediately. Remember you are looking for serenity and peace, rather than a workout per se. Walk with relaxed, slow alertness.

Nature walks set the stage for peace without the demands or alertness necessary for walking in city streets. Breathe comfortably and deeply, smelling the clean air that surrounds you. Immerse yourself in the natural world of plants, trees, and earth.

There is no need to over-process or over-analyze anything. Enjoy the colors, the sounds that the birds make and the earthy smell of the ground. Go ahead and feel a sense of gratitude for everything around you, as you begin to enjoy the benefits of a nature walk.

With the beautiful weather finally making an appearance, hiking for health is highly recommended. Nature brings such a great boost to physical and mental well-being. Here are five benefits of taking a nature walk.

Boost Your Immune System

The cell activity related to the anti-cancer effects of a forest will help boost your immune system as well. One 2010 research review indicates that the natural environment benefits the function a human being’s immune system and thus, healthier, longer lives. One Dutch study that involved over two hundred fifty thousand participants revealed that the percentage of green space in a person’s environment has a positive relationship with the general health of the residents.

Particularly in urban environments, green space nearby played an even greater role when it came to health. The Dutch researchers had indicated that their analyses revealed the residents’ health differences of rural and urban are explained to a large extent by the size of green space available.

The same research team did a follow-up study based on mortality and found that among people who lived very near green space, a broad range of disease was much less prevalent. Other studies show direct links between overall health and time spent in forests.

What could the connection possibly be? The team pointed out that the positive effect that nature had on mental health boosted longevity and overall health. Also, the better quality of air, facilitation of social contact, encouragement of physical activity, recovery from attention fatigue and stress all added up to a much better quality of life in general.

Physical and Mental Stress Relief

Stressed and tense? Go on a nature walk. Students who stayed in a forest for a couple of nights had lower cortisol levels than those who remained in the city. As you know, cortisol is the stress hormone and lower levels are always better. There was also a decreased heart-rate and cortisol in people who stayed amidst nature compared to those in the city. Nature therapy does relieve stress. Even a window view of nature is associated with higher job satisfaction and lower stress among office workers, one study found.

Aside from physical stress, when you feel like your brain is slowing down to a grinding halt, this may be a sign of burnout. Get your mental energy back in gear by exposing your mind to nature. Take a walk surrounded by a nature-trail and watch your mental energy bounce back with a vengeance. One sure way of getting that much-needed mental boost is to feel awestruck with natural beauty that can only be found by going on an outdoor hike.

Improved Short-Term Memory

The University of Michigan held one study in which a memory test was administered to two sets of students. One set took a walk down the street in the city while another took a turn around an arboretum. When the students returned, they were tested again. Those who walked through the trees did almost twenty percent better than they did the first time. There was no significant improvement seen in the students who walked around the city. Another study done on people who were suffering from depression revealed that taking a nature walk boosted memory more than a walk in an urban setting.

Better Focus

Do you feel unable to focus and that your attention is waning? The natural environment restores not just your health but can help get you better focus. Researchers in one study attempted to deplete a group’s ability to focus. Next, they split the group in two, with one set going on a nature walk while another set went on a city-tour. The nature group scored best on the post-hike test, which involved proof-reading. Similar results come from numerous studies. The way nature can affect your focus is so remarkable that it may even help those suffering from Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In fact, ADHD-sufferers experienced better focus after twenty-minutes in a natural environment.

Enjoy Better Vision

Outdoor activity may have a beneficial effect on eyes, reducing myopia or nearsightedness, particularly in children. One research conducted in 2012 states that increased outdoor time spent in nature reduces the progression of myopia in adolescents and children. One study from Australia followed two thousand children for two years and found that there was less of a prevalence of myopia among twelve-year olds when they spent more time outdoors previously. The same relationship did not hold true for those who played indoor sports. Clearly, being outdoors was the deciding factor that led to healthier eyesight overall.