How Does Hiking Improve Mental Health?

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Have you considered engaging in hiking for mental health reasons? When it comes to improving your mental health, some obvious ideas come to mind like going to therapy and taking prescription medications, but more options can prove vital. Getting out in the fresh air and moving around scenic areas doesn’t just give your body a good workout. Exercise helps people enjoy moderated moods and can improve symptoms of mental health disorders. 

Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson understands the connection between the mind and body and incorporates the use of exercise as part of our recommended treatment. A healthy body and mind often go hand-in-hand and allow people to build on the work done during our treatment program. 

Hiking and Mental Health 

It’s difficult to see much media these days without hiking being highlighted as a positive and beneficial activity enjoyed by many. It’s often featured in social media posts, in the news, and in TV shows and films. One of the most convenient things about hiking for good mental health is that it can be done as a solo act or with others. Many people find suiting up in comfortable clothing and walking shoes and heading out on a trail by themselves to provide a natural getaway from the daily grind of life. 

Conversely, hiking can be an excellent group adventure. Groups of friends or family members can hike together. Many hiking groups provide opportunities for people to join a group of like-minded individuals and explore the great outdoors in planned events. Whether hiking on your own or with others, many look forward to planning weekend trips or full vacations around hiking in beautiful areas near them or out of state. When hiking becomes a habit, it often fosters the ability to feel better mentally and physically.

How hiking improves mental healthHow Does Hiking Improve People’s Mental Health? 

Everyone knows that getting in some exercise provides benefits like reducing the risk of hypertension and heart disease, keeping muscles active, and aiding in weight loss. What many may not realize is that hiking can also help improve a person’s mental health. It does so in more than one way. A person’s body naturally produces adrenaline but if it isn’t released, the accumulation of it can contribute to developing muscle tension and anxiety. The act of hiking produces a feel-good chemical called endorphins that help elevate a person’s mood. 

A study published by Stanford University showed that people who spend 90 minutes walking in a natural area (as opposed to city streets) experienced decreased activity in the part of their brain associated with feeling depressed. Additionally, children with ADHD who engaged in hiking enjoyed a reduction in their symptoms much more so than similar activities done in other areas. 

Another benefit of using hiking for mental health is the freedom it gives your mind. It can provide a natural way of not focusing on stressors or anxiety because the individual is instead focusing on the land they are navigating and the scenery around them. Conversely, hiking can also provide solitude that allows a person to focus on problem-solving a situation without interruption. This can help someone who finds it challenging to focus on a topic, including work being done in therapy, when surrounded by the noise pollution of daily life. 

How to Find the Best Hiking Spots Near You 

If you aren’t sure where to start when looking for a place to hike, there are lots of options. The American Hiking Society offers tons of locations for hiking trails including ones near you. The AllTrails app features over 200,000 trail maps for those interested in moving their feet out in nature. Visit Tucson offers a section for hikes that range from casual strolls to multi-day treks. 

You can also search online for hiking areas conducive to good mental health. Social media features lots of groups devoted to hiking, and a search can locate ones near Tucson or any other area of the country. If you have friends or family who love to hike, ask them for recommendations, too.

Contact Montare Tucson to Begin Your Mental Health Journey

In these trying, modern times, people are more educated about what to look for in terms of treatment for mental health disorders. Talk and other traditional therapies pair well with prescription medications but incorporating hiking for mental health can provide another way to improve your symptoms. Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson believes in educating the people we treat so they can employ a diverse range of options to help minimize symptoms that come with illnesses like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more. Our residential program provides structured treatment in a comfortable residential setting to help everyone begin to heal and live their best lives.  

Do you want to get the most effective help available to improve your mental health? Contact us now and let’s talk about how we can make a real difference in showing you how to experience peace of mind again.