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Benefits of Hiking

What Are the health benefits of hiking?

  • Improve your mood and emotions

  • Improves feelings of calm, relaxation, revitalisation and refreshment.

  • Helps treat and prevent depression

  • Improved cognitive functioning

  • Immune system boosted

  • Reduces stress hormone levels

  • Improves feeling of happiness

See quotes and references below.


“Thrillingly, there is now an emerging body of science that supports this anecdotal feeling, and which indicates that walking, especially in regular doses, often in nature, does actually improve how we feel.”


— In Praise of Walking: The new science of how we walk and why it’s good for us by Shane O'Mara. Page 123

“In a study that involved 4,255 participants in the UK researchers investigated this phenomenon of ‘restoration’, defined as feelings of calm, relaxation, revitalisation and refreshment as the result of visiting a natural environment in the previous week. 

The recalled restoration from a visit to nature was very high, with an average score of four on a scale of one to five.”

— In Praise of Walking: The new science of how we walk and why it’s good for us by Shane O'Mara

"It seems very likely, based on the experimental animal literature, that lots of walking (or aerobic exercise more generally) acts both as an inoculant against depressive-like behaviours, and as a treatment which reduces their severity, at least comparably to the best available pharmacological antidepressants on the market."

— In Praise of Walking: The new science of how we walk and why it’s good for us by Shane O'Mara

"Nature, of course, is a frequent awe-generator. “What is the first window into wonder?” asks journalist Richard Louv, the author of The Nature Principle: Reconnecting With Life in a Virtual Age. “It’s crawling out to the edge of the grass, listening to the wind and the trees, turning over a rock, and realizing that you’re not alone in the world.” Louv has come to think that the immune-system boost, improved cognitive functioning (such as increased attention span), and other consequences of being in the great outdoors are all elements of this one essential gift of awe: feeling truly alive. 

The link between exposure to nature and well-being is strong. Urbanites are more likely to be anxious and depressed and to suffer from other mental illnesses. But city dwellers who visit nature-rich environments see an immediate reduction in stress hormones. In one of many such studies, Stanford researcher Gregory Bratman found that college students who walked through green, leafy parts of their campus were happier and more attentive afterward than those assigned to hang out near heavy traffic. 

...Rumination—or mulling over worries—is the biggest predictor of depression and anxiety, according to a large-scale British study published in 2013. “Awe is the opposite of rumination,” says Leahy. “It clears away inner turmoil with a wave of outer immensity.” Whether it’s a sunset with colors more vivid than you’ve ever seen or a rapidly expanding sense of love felt when staring into another’s eyes, “being in awe is losing yourself in something or someone else. The anxious person’s sense that ‘it’s all about me; I must control my situation’ disappears.”

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