You’ve booked your spot; you’ve bought your boots and now you’re ready to hit the local trails near your place to prepare for your upcoming trek. The big goal is successfully completing a trek, be that Kokoda, Kilimanjaro or one of our Nepal treks. But it’s worth noting the other positive benefits that come along with preparing for your upcoming trek. Some of these you might not have even thought of!
Getting out into nature for a hike can actually improve your mental health. A study from Stanford in 2015 found that a 90-minute walk in nature caused a reduction in self-reported in rumination (dwelling on negative thoughts), a risk factor for poor mental health. Another study from 2015, this time from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, found that physical activity in green spaces can lower frustration and increase meditative thoughts. Looks like your brain is benefiting from your training as well as your muscles!
Who would’ve thought that getting out into nature would improve your creativity? Researchers in 2012 studied whether the impact of our tech-obsessed lives and urban living was having an impact on our ability to be creative and guess what they found. Hikers who spent four days immersed in nature with no technological distractions had an increase in performance of 50% during a creativity and problem-solving test. 50% is a massive amount! We’re not saying leave your phone at home and hike through the bush for 4 days, but there are clearly plenty of benefits in getting back to nature.
Brisk walking and hiking were found to reduce the risk of heart disease more effectively than running when the energy expenditure of both activities is evened out. Participants aged 18-80 were observed over a six-year period. The study found running reduced the risk of heart disease by 4.5%, whereas walking reduced it by 9.3%.
A study from 2010 found even moderate exercise can do wonders on your brain. The year-long study found sedentary adults who undertook 40 minutes of walking three times a week at their own pace had increased connectivity of important brain circuits, combatted declines in brain function associated with ageing and increased performance on cognitive tasks. Imagine the benefits of all that training you’re doing on your brain!