It’s important to study. It’s important to focus on your homework and memorize dates, formulas, and theories. It’s important to constantly challenge yourself and approach your learning from a critical perspective.
However, you know what else is important? Walking.
I’m not talking about walking from the bus stop to your room. Nor am I talking about walking outside to eat your lunch, or through the mall with friends.
I’m talking about outside. Trees live there. Fresh air abounds there. Rivers and streams exist there. Birds, fish, and other critters dwell there.
What am I talking about here? Simply put: going outside is good for you. No, really. It isn’t just good for you, it’s excellent for you.
Spending time outside it’s just time wasted. It can help you become a better student. It can lower stress, increase your focus, and improve your memory. Best of all? It’s totally free.
The Science Doesn’t Lie
I grew up with staunch “outdoors people” for parents. My dad is an environmentalist and wildlife biologist who dragged me through the John Muir Trail in California as a teen. Aside from this, I’m a landscape photographer and writer. So yes, you can say I’m a little biased.
… but I’m also not wrong.
Don’t believe me? Well, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that taking a nature walk can have a lot of benefits for your body and mind. Hiking or taking nature walks on dedicated trails can:
- Improve your mental health
- Decrease the risk of respiratory problems
- Improve balance and spatial awareness
- Build strong bones and muscles without weightlifting
- Improve memory
- Boost your immune system
- Improve cardiovascular health
You can improve your mental health and memory by getting outside. Not only that, you can also get and stay in shape without having to lift weights or do intense cardio. Wherever you’re going, you can literally walk to get there (and have a good time while you’re at it).
Anytime is a Great Time to Start
It’s fall right now, and for me, it’s hiking season. Not too hot, but not too cold, either. If you live somewhere where the leaves change colors, the views are also absolutely gorgeous on the trails this time of year.
But, no matter what time of year it is, hiking or taking nature walks can be incredible in any season. If it’s super cold where you live in the wintertime, bundle up and take a walk in the woods. In winter, everything gets really quiet, and the air smells crisp and clean. For me, this always helped me organize and clarify my thoughts. I could work out how I would tackle complex assignments, sort through my feelings, and focus on solutions to problems. And, because it’s nice and chilly, I wouldn’t even break a sweat.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”Henry David Thoreau, “Walden”
In the spring and summer, a solid nature walk or distance hike can open up your perception and drastically impact and improve your mood and mental health. Everything turning green and coming back to life can do wonders for depression.
These are all especially important as a student, because all of these things can help you take healthy and mindful breaks from schooling. In turn, that will help improve cognition and memory response.
You can literally alter your perception of the world and unplug from stressful digital spaces. In a sense, you’d be walking your way to a brighter mood and lighter mental load. That’s true of any season.
Get Your Family Involved
Have I (and all those smart scientists) helped to convince you to give this a try yet? But, maybe you’re not sure how to go about it?
One easy solution is to ask your parents if they would like to join you. If hiking or taking nature walks hasn’t been something you and your family seek out regularly, maybe give it a try together.
Hiking also improves relationships and encourages healthy habits in the home and beyond. Also, it’s fun (just trust me). Bonding in the outdoors is an experience that can bring a family closer together. It also becomes a favored pastime and fosters irreplaceable shared memories that will last a lifetime.
So… what are you still doing staring at your screen? Get out there and start living!