Hiking Boosts Brain Power

9:59 AM, Oct 22, 2012   |    comments
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feeling unproductive at work?  well it might be time to take a hike!  a new study suggests spending time outdoors just might be that brain boost you need.
NBC's Collette Wieland has the story.

There's something special about spending time outside, in nature.

mike turner, outdoor store general manager: "i know after i'm outside for 3 or 4 days, i come back to work and my mind is clear, i'm refreshed, i'm ready to focus."

megan bingham, hiker: "you kind of forget about the busy-ness of life and kind of come back to a clear space."

you get away from it all... the computers, cell phones and digital toys that consume our lives.

belle bezdicek, hiker: "you sort of take time to really observe what's around you... and you take in what really matters i think."

but if taking the time to soak in the views and breathe that fresh air -- isn't reason enough for you to hit the trail... how about this...

new research shows that being one with nature -- not only recharges your batteries -- it can also boost your brain power.

dr. david strayer, psychology professor: "the benefits are there, that's from a scientific perspective."

dr. david strayer -- a psychology professor at the university of utah -- recently tested the creative thinking skills of about 60 people on a backpacking trip.

he gave half of the hikers a pen and paper test at the start of the trailhead... four days later, the rest of the group took the same test.

dr. david strayer, psychology professor: "we found a 50% boost in creativity for the people who had been hiking for four days."

all of them showed measurable improvements in their creativity.

dr. strayer says the part of our brain that controls creativity -- also controls our ability to multi-task, retain information and solve problems.

dr. david strayer, psychology professor: "it's really kind of the creative powerhouse of the brain."

and most of us overwork it... but being back in nature, away from the digital world... gives your brain a break.

dr. david strayer, psychology professor: "we don't understand exactly why our brains seem to be recharged by that, but they do."

it recharges -- even though it's still working.

ask just about anyone on a run or hike through the woods... and they'll tell you...

belle bezdicek, hiker: "you're constantly looking for the next marker... you're constantly trying to figure out if you're okay."

so wrap your brain around that... hitting the trail might just make you smarter.

mike turner, outdoor store general manager: "i spend a few days outside and come back a little smarter. i think i need to put it in an ad."

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