Hike it Off

How Connecting With Nature Improves Your Health

The connection between physical health and mental health is clear: Our minds and our bodies are linked, and what happens to one can affect the other. Depression and emotional eating can easily lead to weight gain. But weight gain can also lead to depression.

Depression and weight gain are an unhealthy combination that has a tendency to reinforce one another, which is why it's equally important to cultivate mental wellness as it is to work towards being physically healthy.

Luckily, there's an activity that can be practiced nearly all year long that promotes positive mental and physical health simultaneously. We're talking, of course, about hiking.

Hiking is one of the best #healthhacks you can rely on to boost your physical AND mental wellbeing.

Although all forms of exercise have proven to be effective in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, hiking has additional benefits that can bolster your mental health.

  1. Hiking calms your mind. Whether it's the sun glistening through the leaves or the birds chirping above you, hiking can have a soothing effect that helps you clear your mind. Spending time outdoors and unplugging helps relieve the mental fatigue that comes from our increasingly connected lives

  2. Hiking unlocks more brainpower. People who spend more time in nature have demonstrated stronger creative and problem-solving skills than those who don't. By hitting some local trails, you could be strengthening your mind so that it can more effectively handle conflicts. 

  3. Hiking changes your perception. It's hard to dwell on negative thoughts when you're in the great outdoors. Maybe it's the scenery, or maybe it's the roots you have to carefully walk over, but hiking has the ability to take your mind off of stressful or negative emotions and experiences that might be clouding your vision.

Hiking also has many, many physical benefits.

As we explained, your physical and your mental health are equally important, what affects one could easily affect the other, and hiking is a fantastic option if you're looking for an easy way to maintain both. As an incredibly effective cardiovascular workout, hiking has the following benefits:

  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Lower body fat
  • Core strengthening
  • Improved balance
  • Improved bone density

This summer, try finding a local trail that you can explore on a weekly basis. As you do, be sure to use your FitTrack report to monitor how this new activity affects certain health indicators like your body fat%, bone mass, and visceral fat. Be sure to monitor how your mental health responds as well!

Tracking key health indicators like the ones mentioned in this article can help keep you motivated as you work towards your health goals. Ready to take control with FitTrack?