Contemporary Research Tells Us Hiking is Great for Our Brains

Updated: May 7, 2020

~Many different studies confirm that hiking is an awesome brain hack – especially in this high-tech, ultra urbanized times.

“The rift between God and nature would vanish if we knew how to experience nature because what keeps them apart is not a difference of substance but a split in the mind.” ―Alan W. Watts. Clearly, Alan Watts understood the inherent value of spending time in nature.

A plethora of us recognizes that spending quality time in and hiking in nature is one of the most optimal brain hack regimens that has proven great for the body, mind, and spirit. Trekking through Mother Nature's beautifully lush boscage whilst descrying all the priceless gifts our divine Mother Earth has blessed us with; the chaotically well-orchestrated foliage and serenading from the birds, the saccharine aroma of the pine trees, and of course, the soothing sound of a river flowing downstream naturally releases dopamine and endorphins in the brain that then simply clear our minds stimulating a feeling of joy. Fortunately for us, physicians concur. Hiking is good for our brains, and it shifts us in positive ways.

In an approved study by the Stanford University Human Subjects Committee, the researchers demonstrated that though urbanization has many benefits, it is also associated with increased levels of mental illness, including depression. It has been suggested that decreased nature experience may help to explain the link between urbanization and mental illness.

Studies have found that people who spend time hiking in nature suffer less from anxiety and suffer less rumination because the act of walking through nature is calming too, which is a tremendous aid as protection from depression. Research has also found that being in nature encourages feelings of awe—a state of wonder coupled with a sense of being small in the presence of something bigger than yourself. Awe is a powerful emotion that has many benefits, including improving your mood and making you feel more generous.

While Social distancing is far from ideal (greater isolation and increased cases of depression), the time alone and away from work may wind up providing us with ample time to re-connect with the natural world and to explore our creative outlets. As a regular hiker and lover of the Earth, I have noticed how many more people have taken advantage of this forced period of isolation to take to the woods and explore the beauty of nature. As the capitalist machine grinds to a halt, wouldn’t it be wonderful if our Mother Earth emerges once more at the forefront of our awareness?


About the Author: Adrian Clarke

Adrian Clarke is a spiritual seeker living in Jamaica, where he is assiduously engaged in finding that divine balance between ease and effort in what seems to be a chaotic world. Severe trauma as a child set him on a path to healing himself. That zeal led him to learn as much as he could about personal transformation. He practices and teaches Yoga and is very insightful in the worlds of astrology, alternative healing, comparative religions, metaphysics, and philosophy.

Dubbed as the young Marcus Garvey, he earned his B.A. degrees in Philosophy & Economics at the Providence University College and Theological Seminary in Manitoba, Canada. Adrian is also a Travel Blogger, Social Media Manager, and Cannabis Consultant.

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