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How Hiking Benefits Your Mental Health

James Ryan

“Hello, my name is Amelie and I am doing a big presentation on how hiking benefits your mental health. I know that you are very busy, but could you please spare a few minutes to answer the following questions:

1. How does hiking help you?
2. Do you think hiking helps your mental health? Why do you think this?
3. Do you prefer exercising during hiking or to go to the gym?
4. Why did you decide to go fundraise while going hiking up Bruce trail?
5. What are 5 reasons why you like hiking?
6. What are 5 words you would use to describe hiking?
7. Does hiking help you perform well in hockey? Why do you think that this happens?
8. Do you think that hiking can save lives? ie. Suicidal thoughts, depression, etc. Why do you think this?
9. How do you think hiking helps you physically?
10. What else do you think hiking benefits? ie. Other sports, emotions, people around you, etc.

Your help is much appreciated. Thanks for your time.”

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Hi Amelie, thanks for your questions. I’ll try to be as brief and helpful as possible. I started to go through all of you questions, but to be honest – they prompt a lot of repetitive answers, so let me just try to break it all down for you as simply as possible…

Absolutely, there are multiple physical and mental benefits to hiking. Aside from being great exercise (did you know that walking is the number one fat-burning exercise?), it also helps with anxiety, depression, and just clearing out your head in general. As a creative person, I find hiking to be very beneficial when I’m over-thinking a project. Being outside in the woods forces me to relax my mind and focus on my surroundings, and it’s in moments like those that I always encounter creative epiphanies. I can’t really explain it – it just happens.

I used to work in the fitness industry for over 15 years when I was younger, and in terms of how I look and feel, hiking beats going to the gym hands-down. In fact, I don’t even own a gym membership anymore. It took me a long time to admit to myself that gyms are nothing more than a useless, depressing way to spend time, surrounded by a bunch of insecure egomaniacs who are more concerned about how they look than they are about their overall health. Obviously, this speaks in generalities and doesn’t apply to everyone, but I would say most everyone.

I don’t play hockey, but I get what you’re asking. I’ve spent the past 34 years weight-lifting and training in martial arts and I would agree that hiking keeps me in better shape for when I go to class. Being active on a daily basis helps to reduce your chances of injury during more intense episodes of exercise. It’s all about body conditioning. I also stretch on a daily basis, which in turn helps with my hiking.

Hiking helps with depression. This happens when people reconnect with nature, but even more important is to disconnect from the Internet, social drama, and every day worry/problems. Spending time in nature has a way of putting life in perspective and teaches you what’s really important; health, family, and pursuing your dreams. Everything else is just brain filler.

Hope some of this can help you out. All the best. Good luck!

James Ryan

@thefallentrail

HowWalkingInNatureChangesOurBrain_Infographic


Source of the infographic: https://www.physiomed.ca/walking-in-nature/

James Ryan
James Ryan

jon and james
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