Physical And Mental Health Benefits Of Hiking

For those who aren’t already convinced that hiking is a great activity, this article may help you change your mind.

What’s so good about going outside and walking around in nature? It could be how free you feel when out in the open spaces and fresh air. It could be the beautiful nature scenes and landscapes you will get to enjoy. Or it could just be the feeling of getting away from everything that is causing you stress in your daily life.

While you are out hiking, you see, hear, and smell things you don’t get to experience in your every day life. Each season brings a new combination of experiences. Going hiking in the fall can give you the best views of the colorful leaves on the trees.

Benefits of Hiking:
1. Lowers the risk of heart disease
2. Builds muscle and bone density
3. Improves balance and your core strength
4. Helps you control your weight
5. Improves depression and anxiety
6. Improves your ability to learn and cognitive function.
7. Improves memory and creativity
8. Helps you sleep better
9. Improves problem solving and multi tasking abilities
10. Improves selective attention and inhibition

How to go Hiking as a Beginner:
1. Start on a flat surface, like going for a walk. There are hiking trails labeled as easy, medium, and hard (or something similar). Check out the difficulty before heading out.
2. Gradually increase the hills you hike up with each time you go. Don’t start off hiking up a big, steep hill. Also avoid hiking downhill as your first hike. Both up hill and down hill will increase your heart rate and will be more difficult at first.
3. Make sure you take some water, snacks, and an emergency kit (first aid). Don’t pack too much in your backpack at first. Pack more later, as you get used to carrying the weight.
4. Plan ahead for weather and terrain. Don’t go hiking in the pouring rain or in a thunderstorm. Muddy/slippery conditions, falling trees, high winds, and lightning are dangerous.
5. You can use hiking poles to help you balance and build upper body strength. Be sure to wear shoes with support and good traction.

Hiking in nature is an excellent activity for anyone to enjoy. Whether you are a beginner or advanced hiker it pays off to be out there and enjoying your adventures.

How Dancing Can Make You Smarter

If you are a dancer already or if you have seen others dancing, you probably think it is a great workout! It is a lot of fun, it can relieve stress, and it can make you healthier. It can improve your coordination and awareness of the people or objects around you. The benefits are endless.

Did you know that dancing also helps your brain, can improve your mental health, and can even make you smarter? Growing evidence shows that dancing is great for reducing or even relieving the symptoms you feel when you get depressed. Since dancing focuses on body movement and expression of emotions, it is wonderful and therapeutic.

How dancing can make you smarter:

  • Dancing supports intellectual brain functions – Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) is also known as movement psychotherapy. It is a psychological therapy using body movements to improve and maintain motor, intellectual, and emotional abilities of the whole body.
  • Dancing helps development of cognitive functions – Dance therapy creates a supportive environment for cognitive development. As an example: while dancing, the person is working to make very fast decisions about which moves they will be doing next. They think about where their feet will be going, and what each body part will be doing. This kind of quick decision making can help the brain learn how to act and think fast in times of stress. The more experienced you art are at dancing, muscle memory comes into play and you do not need to think about what to do all the time. That brings us to our next benefit, memory improvement.
  • Dancing boosts your memory – Several studies show that dancing reduces your risk of dementia, and improves a cognitive domain called spatial memory. Dancing into old age can help you preserve your motor skills, cognitive function, and perceptual abilities. In addition, muscle memory forms in those who practice dance regularly. The brain creates brand new neural pathways just for the dance moves you do the most often. The more moves you master, the more pathways your brain has made. That brings us to the next one: nerve growth factors.
  • Dancing stimulates growth of new brain nerves – Nerve growth factors are the proteins that are important to sensory neuron health. Dancing creates a connection between the right and left brain. Long term dancing has a positive effect on brain activity, including improved neuroplasticity – which is how well the brain can create neural connections/pathways for adapting to changes.

Due to all of these benefits, dancing can be used as intervention and prevention for brain diseases such as cerebral palsy, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and more.

How To Promote Healthy Brain Development For Kids

One critical aspect to anyone’s health is how they were raised and nurtured while they were young.

This article will discuss why it is so important to promote healthy brain development in kids. It will also include a list of ways to help their brains develop healthy and properly.

Why youth brain development is important:

1. In the first few years of life the brain develops its “wiring” or neural pathways. They develop quickly and the health of these pathways depends on the baby’s environment and the people around them.

2. How well their neural pathways form will affect their ability to learn languages, solve problems, and do well in life overall. If they aren’t properly nurtured it can hurt them physically and emotionally. It can cause them to have trouble getting along with other people.

3. Severely neglected or abused children will most likely grow up with brain wiring that causes them major problems later in life. Trauma has been known to drastically change how people can live their life. The consequences can include drug and alcohol abuse, abusing others, lifelong mental illness, or actions that hurt themselves. They can become unable to work a job or care for themselves.

Now that the importance of healthy brain growth has been explained here are ways you can help your kids (or other people’s kids) grow up with healthy minds and emotions.

How to promote healthy brain development in children:

1. Positive experiences – Be responsive to the child, be nurturing to them, give them positive experiences, and make them feel loved and safe. Give rewards and praise often, respond to them with warm and kind voices, and try to keep a stable emotion when interacting with them. Don’t behave unpredictably with them, as it can scare them. For example don’t yell when you usually talk to them with a normal volume.

2. Fun activities – You can talk, read, or sing to your child. You can get on the floor with them and explore their world at their level. Encourage any new learning moments and reward them.

3. Balance human interaction with toys – Don’t just let your child learn everything from the TV, phones, tablets and toys. It is critical to their development to be constantly engaged with other humans and learn from them. It is more natural for kids to learn from adults in face-to-face interactions and conversations. They can pick up on social cues, learn gestures, learn facial expressions, and learn social skills.

4. Build a community – Allow your child to interact with many of your friends, family members, and even coworkers. As long as you feel safe around others it is good for your child to come into contact with many other people and to learn diversity and social skills.

Although these are just a few of many good tips they should help your child’s brain development. Even if you had a less than perfect past, your child has a fresh start and you can help them succeed.

Exercise Ideas For Older Adults

Throughout your life, your exercise options will change to fit your age and body. It is a good idea to exercise at any age, but seniors should make activity a priority.

The health benefits of exercise in seniors are very substantial. It not only helps you live longer, but your life quality will be better and you’ll enjoy it much more. Seniors value their independence, and exercising can help them maintain their independence much longer. In addition, exercise that includes balance can help reduce falls by up to 23 percent in seniors. Other benefits include more energy, less diseases, improved brain function, and more.

Here are some exercise ideas for older adults to try:

Water Aerobics – Ideal for those with joint pain because it is low impact and the water helps take weight off of your joints. This exercise improves balance, strength, and flexibility with low stress.

Chair Yoga – This kind of exercise helps with muscle strength, flexibility and balance. Chair yoga takes pressure and stress off of muscles and joints. Many seniors aren’t able to do traditional yoga without getting hurt, so chair yoga is much more appropriate.

Resistance Bands – This option is not only user friendly and low cost, but you can do it anywhere. They don’t take up much space, so you can take them and use them when you need. Resistance bands can improve posture, balance, mobility, and core strength.

Pilates – Pilates is low impact and popular with seniors. Focuses on breathing, body alignment, core strength, and concentration. This improves flexibility and balance.

Walking – Avoid walking up steep hills or anywhere with uneven ground where you can trip and fall. Try walking on sidewalks or on trails. Try listening to music while walking, or go with a friend.

Hand Weights or Dumbbells – Using smaller and lighter weights is ideal for seniors who need to build up strength. This allows them to train small muscle groups at a time and only work on the muscles they need to work on. This will help you gain more ability to pick up and carry some items in your daily life. It also helps balance and flexibility like the other ones mentioned above.

Exercises that seniors over 65 should avoid doing:

Weighted squats
Bench presses
Leg presses
Long distance running
Rowing upright
Dead lifts
High intensity training
Rock climbing

In conclusion, there are many fun and interesting ways for older adults to get their work-outs safely. Try some of these tips for a better quality of life.