Explore the great outdoors by hiking

Why not get outside and take a hike this Sunday on National Take a Hike Day? Your mental and physical health might depend on it. If you knew that nature could make you happier, healthier, and more creative, would you make more of an effort to spend time outdoors?

In her book, “The Nature Fix,” Florence Williams shows that nature does in fact make us happier, healthier, and more creative. Williams explains that humans “suffer from an ‘epidemic dislocation from the outdoors,’ and it’s destructive to our mental and physical health.” More and more, people are moving inside and gluing themselves to screens, which could be contributing to depression, anxiety, and stymied creative growth. Williams suggests that spending time outside is the prescription for combating these mental health struggles.

National Take a Hike Day may be the incentive we need to celebrate the great outdoors and get back to our roots. Just 15 minutes spent in the woods can reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. Raise that to 45 minutes, and intellectual capability increases. Imagine what nature can do for your brain and overall health if you decide to go for a walk in the woods just a few times a week.

“Shinrin yoku” is a Japanese term that means “forest-bathing.” This does not involve jumping into a creek to wash up, rather it is the practice of feeling the trees, smelling their bark and leaves, and listening to the wind rustling through it all. It’s about completely submersing yourself in nature. Paying attention to the details may give you a greater appreciation for them, and an appreciation of the land that we come from. The Japanese have shown that this can stimulate creativity, concentration, physical health, and life expectancy.

National Take a Hike Day is this Sunday, November 17, 2019.

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