photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Feeling stressed? Take a hike! You’ve probably always heard how revitalizing it can be to get some fresh air, but now studies have proven that your family hike in the woods can actually change your brain for the better. Read on to find out all the brain-altering benefits of hiking.

A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that walking outdoors in a natural environment, versus an urban one, led to significantly less dwelling on negative thoughts and reduced neural activity in an area of the brain related to mental illness. In other words, going on a nature hike can actually improve your mental health and make you feel happier. They also found that increased urbanization had the opposite effect of leading to increased cases of depression and mental illness.

In a separate study, researchers found that spending time outdoors in green space could also significantly reduce symptoms of ADHD in children, helping them stay focused and gaining impulse control.

If you’re feeling blue, pack up the minivan, leave the tablets behind, and go for a hike. Not only will you be getting a fun, educational experience, you’ll also be making your whole family healthier.