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  • path through woods with mountains in background

3 Reasons to Take to the Woods this Summer

If you’ve ever immersed yourself in nature and felt a profound sense of calm wash over you, then you know why John Muir’s famous quote resonates with so many people: “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

Muir, a naturalist, explorer, writer, and conservationist had a love and appreciation for the beauty of nature and the importance of preservation that rivaled few. His explorations took him around the world but his connection to the U.S. wilderness led to his involvement in the creation of a number of our national parks. Through his writing, Muir makes clear the impact nature has on individual health and wellness.

Today, scientists continue to explore the physical, emotional, and mental benefits of hiking in nature. Here are three reasons you should consider following Muir’s advice about taking to the woods this summer:

  • Hiking can help decrease feelings of hopelessness: Results from a 2012 study suggest that mountain hiking, as an add-on therapy to usual care, is associated with a decrease in feelings of hopelessness and depression.
  • Hiking can improve your cognitive ability: A group of researchers and participants completed a pre- and post-test to determine their cognitive ability before and after a four-day hike in the wilderness. Their research showed an average group improvement of 45%.
  • Hiking can improve your physical health: Besides burning calories, hiking can help you tone your whole body, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and even has shown to improve antioxidative capacity, which aids us in fighting off disease.

Whatever your reasons for going on a hike may be, you are engaging in an activity that is helping your body and your mind. In the words of Muir, “In every walk in nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”