Does Hiking Make you Smarter?

1:28 a.m. on July 14, 2012 (EDT)
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This is an interesting article:

This, in particular caught my attention:  

The theory, according to Backpacker, is that time in wilderness may inspire physiological changes, such as the release of certain hormones, or the use of different brain regions, allowing the overtaxed higer-thinking region of the brain to distress and restore clear thinking abilities.

This is interesting to me, because I have noticed that I find myself thinking more clearly when I'm in the wild vs when I'm at home.  

What has your experience been?

7:18 p.m. on July 14, 2012 (EDT)
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I ma not sure if this activity necessarily makes one "smarter." I mean if it does I negate any progress by smacking the bean off of tree branches, rocks, so on and so forth.

Hence the whole "Part Time Professional Crash Test Dummy" reference for my occupation listing...

I have found that for me it is the best form of therapy that I could ask for. I am very well grounded when I get back from a week+ in the hills. 

5:23 a.m. on July 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Definitely relaxing, I feel like a million bucks after I get back from a trip. Wouldn't say it makes me 'smarter' but it definitely makes a difference in my psyche, and In general think more clearly for quite a  few days afterwards. It's the best destressing method I know of!

I can't magically do calculus 4 when I get back from the woods or anything lol, but all in all can see a difference in cognitive function.

11:19 a.m. on July 15, 2012 (EDT)
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I think (or do I?) that the opportunity for solitude can permit one to examine matters that the frenetic pace of life with others either obscures or defers.

2:29 p.m. on July 15, 2012 (EDT)
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I definitely think that engaging in a wide variety of outdoor activities, especially during developmental years, is highly beneficial to mental patterns, function, multi-dimensional critical thinking, and spacial acuity. 

7:18 p.m. on July 15, 2012 (EDT)
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In a way...

Hiking & Backpacking make me more aware of my surroundings.. I see things differently than I would if I were in an urban setting.  I find that every time I head out I tend to really challenge myself - IDing plants, mushrooms, birds, tracks, etc... So for me it is always an educational experience as well as a complete mind relax.

10:26 a.m. on July 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Absolutely. My level of awareness is much higher and I pay lot more attention to my surroundings. I don't know if it makes me any smarter (and I have no idea of the physiology involved) but I'm certainly concentrating on where I am and what I'm doing a lot more. 

In the city, it's easy to just spend most of your time in a blissfully unaware state - everything you do each day follows familiar patterns, and you only really have to think about the rare situations when something different happens.

We've all heard about mental activities (crossword puzzles, etc.) being helpful to stave off senility and Alzheimer's. I'm sure that the level of awareness that I have on the trails, with scents and sights and sounds and textures that are totally different, is so far beyond my urban experience that I'm functioning at a higher level at every moment.

10:52 a.m. on July 16, 2012 (EDT)
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I don't necessarily think that my experiences in the backcountry make me smarter but I do feel they make me wiser.

4:56 p.m. on July 16, 2012 (EDT)
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“..Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun…” -  Noel Coward

Then again it is fair to question the intelligence of anyone wandering around in the sweltering midday sun.  That lightheaded sense of well being and clarity of thought may be the result of dead brain cells generating less mental activity, thus less opportunity for conflicting and frazzled thoughts.

As for being wiser, considr this camp fire musing after a scorching day schleping up Muir Pass:

I think therefore I am.  But when I don’t think I still am.  But what I am I still not know.


8:02 p.m. on July 16, 2012 (EDT)
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I've been reading a book entitled "The Nature Principle", and the author makes reference to studies that show mental and emotional improvement by getting out into nature.  Found it kind of interesting since that confirmed my experiences from being out in the woods.

11:50 a.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Sure, I'll blame it on my hiking

10:39 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
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The city will close down all your senses, the woods will make

them come alive. You got to love that evergreen smell and the damp

leaves smell on the ground in the fall, there is nothing like it !

The woods will also clear your mind and is very therapeutic

to your soul and you will have a sense of peace surrounded by

all the beauty and great balance found in nature. Not like

our city centers which are totally the opposite.

Everyone should get to experience the complete deafening silence

of the woods and get to smell the pines !

Take care,

Dwayne Oakes



February 24, 2020
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