Your mental health is equally important as your physical health. Hiking is a great way to improve your mental health. I discussed the physical health benefits of hiking earlier in… Now let us discuss the positive impacts to mental health and hiking. There are many studies conducted on the impact of the outdoors and mental health. These studies including one from NIH, and my own experience is that hiking connects the person to nature including fresh air, beautiful scenery and contact with other creatures.
One of the interesting connections between mental health and physical health of hiking is that when you are outside you do not realize how long you are exercising. Most of the time there is another goal involved in the hike other than exercise. There is typically some beautiful scenery along the hike or a beautiful view at the end of the hike worth hiking to. Sometimes during the hike, you can get lost in thought and not realize the benefit of time spent exercising. Outdoor hiking provides all of these mental benefits because the distractions from time that do not happen when in a gym setting with timers on treadmills and clocks on the walls.
Exposure to nature does wonders for stress and depression reduction as well. After a stressful day at work, a very good remedy is to get outside and enjoy fresh air to rejuvenate your body. Depression is a scary topic that has to be addressed by professionals; however, I believe that hiking is a good prescription to help. Seeing, smelling, hearing and feeling the great outdoors is a wonderful way to lower stress and depression.
Mindfulness is very impactful to mental well-being and hiking is a great way to be connected through mindfulness. Being in nature is one of the easiest places to be mindful, you can experience everything around you and just let it be what it is. Whether it is feeling the ground with every step, or feeling the air on your face or experiencing all the sounds around you experiencing nature is very mindful. Anywhere along the hike a pause can be taken to be still and further experience mindfulness as well. Mindful hiking is a great way to experience the benefit of mindfulness.
Work on your mental health, get outdoors and enjoy a hike.
Picture taken by Shaun Cruze during a hike north of Pyramid Lake Nevada looking at the Granite mountain range