Using Nature to Improve Our Mental Wellness

Using Nature to Improve Our Mental Wellness

Hiking is a full-body workout—and that includes our mind. Hiking is a unique activity, giving us a way to meet the recommended amount of daily exercise while reaping even more mental and emotional health benefits. When we spend time in nature, we tap into all of our senses as we engage with its sounds, sights, smells, and textures. 

The role of hiking in our physical health

Across the United States, there are tens of thousands of hiking trails, some of which may be in your own backyard. In the National Parks alone, there are a combined 21,000 miles of trails to explore. Hiking is an accessible tool for physical fitness that helps us incorporate nature into our daily routines. Regular hiking can lead to decreased blood pressure, enhanced immune system function, restored attention, as well as improved overall wellness.

Hiking is particularly beneficial for our cardiovascular fitness. With the terrain includes hills, our hearts have to work harder. An uneven surface will also naturally engage the core muscles, improving our balancing skills.

Connecting with nature

Spending time in nature can help reduce stress and calm anxiety, leading to a lower risk of depression. Hiking in nature also gives us a chance to improve our sensory perception as each of our senses becomes stimulated. We may also see additional benefits including increased happiness, cognitive function, memory, creativity, improved sleep, and a sense of purpose, as well as improvements in how we manage our daily tasks.

Studies have also shown that humans who are exposed to nature and natural environments experience improvements in working memory, attentional control, and cognitive flexibility. On the other end of the spectrum, exposure to more urban and city-like environments was found to be linked to attention deficits. Another study showed that long-distance walking, including hiking, caused a positive correlation with mental wellness, including emotional distress.

Hiking tips

Hydration is essential for our physical performance, as well as injury prevention and recovery. Proper hydration is necessary for our fitness routines to improve our performance. If the possibility of dehydration is likely (for example, if temperatures are hot and humid), be sure to drink the recommended amount of water to avoid dehydration. 

Safety and stamina are also essential for a hike. Stretching before any physical activity helps increases our blood flow and delivery of nutrients to reduce muscle soreness, and has also been linked to increased levels of serotonin to reduce stress and feelings of anxiety. When it comes to retaining our energy throughout the entirety of the hike, No. 8’s Energy gummies are easy to pack for an extra boost of energy that keeps you grounded and alert, so you can keep on trekking.

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