Health benefits of hiking
Most of us know the physical benefits of exercise, but did you know that hiking in nature can amplify those benefits and offer more? A hike or bushwalk may seem like a fun way to pass an hour or a day, but research shows it is far more valuable than that.
There is compelling evidence that being in nature can have a positive effect on our mental health. Studies have shown that people who don’t spend much time in nature experience higher levels of depression and anxiety, mental fatigue and stress.
Regular contact with nature and the outdoors can play an important preventive role in mental health by reducing stress and increasing quality of life. The mental health benefits of physical exercise are well known and exercising outdoors in natural settings also provides a wide range of psychological and cognitive benefits. Spending time in green spaces will leave you feeling happier and healthier.
Social connection is important for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Social isolation and loneliness have been linked to higher risks of a variety of health conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, and depression.
Taking a hike with others can help alleviate these risks by decreasing stress, improving our mood, and helping us feel that we are a valuable part of our community.
Hiking and walking with others in a park are wonderful ways to connect with family and friends or meet new people with similar interests in your local community. People of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds can benefit from connecting with others in nature.
Physical activity promotes health and can have a big impact on preventing or managing disease, so it’s important for people of all ages to exercise on a regular basis.
Life expectancy, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mental illness, and even quality of sleep improves when we increase our physical activity.Australians are spending less time outdoors, and more time in sedentary activities than ever before. Less than a third of Australians are getting enough physical activity to benefit their health. Research shows that exercising in nature leads to greater health benefits than doing the same activity indoors. Also, people tend to exercise for longer and at greater intensity in nature. Outdoor exercise supports your overall health and wellbeing as it is great for reducing stress, improving memory and brain function, mood and concentration, and reducing stress and anxiety.
Find out more about the connections between nature and human health.