Hiking has gained popularity during the pandemic as a safe way to get outside and stay active. Hiking lets you take in the beauty of nature in your community and it has many health benefits, especially for your brain. Today we share a few of them to encourage you to get outside and get hiking!
- Exercise supports healthy blood vessels. All exercise benefits your brain by supporting the health of your blood vessels. Regular exercise is one of the top ways to prevent dementia and the long distances and changing elevation of hiking certainly gets your blood pumping.
- Hiking flexes your internal GPS. The hippocampus is the region of the brain responsible for learning, memory, and navigation. Exercising in a cognitively demanding setting, like unknown terrain, challenges your brain and improves your spatial navigation, memory, and attention.
- New skills enhance brain plasticity. Trying new activities boosts the nervous system’s ability to adjust to new demands and information. If you’re new to hiking, the challenge and novelty of it will improve your brain plasticity. If you’re a seasoned hiker, backpacking could be the next best level of brain challenge.
- Exploring nature reduces stress. Time in nature has been proven time and time again to lower stress levels and boost your health. Hiking not only promotes physical health but can also have a substantial impact on mental health and wellbeing.
The peaceful environment, new terrain, and physical challenge of hiking make it one of the most well-rounded exercise routines. If you’re new to hiking, make sure to always bring a map, let someone know where you’re going, and pack plenty of food and water. Happy hiking!