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 What Hiking Does To The Brain Is Pretty Amazing

Recent studies about the effects of hiking and nature have been directed
at understanding just how this recreational activity affects both the
physiological and mental aspects of our brains. One of the main reasons
for this glut of research is because we’re spending so much less time
outdoors, overall. The average American child now spends half as much
time outside as compared to only 20 years ago. HALF. Only 6% of children
will play outside on their own in a typical week. Conversely, kids are
now spending almost 8 hours per day watching television, playing video
games, or using a computer, tablet, or phone for recreational purposes.
That number actually jumps up to 10 hours if you count doing two things
at once! Overall, Americans now spend 93% of their time inside a
building or vehicle

According to a study published last July in Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences
, a 90-minute walk through a natural environment had a
huge positive impact on participants. In a survey taken afterwards,
those people who took the natural walk showed far lower levels of
brooding, or obsessive worry. The control group who spent that 90
minutes walking through a city reported no such difference. Not only
that, but the scientists went a step further and did brain scans of the
subjects. They found that there was decreased blood flow to the
subgenual prefrontal cortex. What in the world does that mean? Well,
increased blood flow to this region of the brain is associated with bad
moods. Everything from feeling sad about something, to worrying, to
major depression seem to be tied to this brain region. Hiking
deactivates it.