13 May May 13, 2016 by Vision Travel in Active Travel, Did You Know 1) Spending time outdoors reduces stress. There’s a reason why there’s a smile on everyone’s face after they’ve come back from an active adventure – because they’re happier for it! All the stresses of life just melt away as you embark amongst some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Research suggests that nature walks can reduce stress, as well as boost levels of attention! The study findings show that “nature experiences, even of a short duration, can decrease this pattern of thinking that is associated with the onset, in some cases depression,” says Gregory Bratman, the lead author of the study. 2) Nature makes exercise EASIER. If you’re having trouble getting the motivation to get fit, here’s a bit of information that will make exercise easier! Research conducted at the University of Essex suggests that exercise feels easier when you are viewing the colour green (such as that found on trees, grass and other plants in nature!). The study conducted tested cyclists pedalling in front of green, red and grey images. Those who pedalled in front of the green screen reported that they felt lower exertion during their cycling, as well as displayed less mood disturbances than the other participants. So if you’re looking for a way to get fit the easy way, fool your mind and go on an active adventure in nature – where it’s “green”! 3) Nature regenerates and rejuvenates your soul. One of the best reasons to spend time outdoors trekking and cycling is that it can regenerate and rejuvenate your mental state. Studies have shown that viewing natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, which can release endorphins and trigger a mental boost. In an interview with Huffington Post, Seattle-based environmental psychologist states “In addition to helping decrease stress levels, spending more time with nature shows a shift toward more positive moods… the theory is that we respond positively to things that are good for us. Trees offer shade, protection and often have fruits and nuts, so they are a source of food as well as protection and comfort.” Ultimately, we tend to be drawn and attracted to things that are beneficial to our survival, which is one of the reasons why trees and other natural elements can help lift our moods.. 4) Adventures give you a sense of accomplishment. Regardless of age and size, taking on an overseas adventure can create the feelings associated with personal achievement. The more difficult the trek and the greater the challenge, the more sense of achievement we feel when we accomplish those goals! Whether you’re trekking to Kilimanjaro, climbing Island Peak, cycling the Andes or adventure touring the highlights of Africa, using adventure travel as your personal goal can provide a euphoric feeling that stays with you long after you’ve returned home! 5) Travel increases your self-awareness. A bi-product of travel is raising your self-awareness – and it’s one of the most beneficial parts of taking on an adventurous trip overseas. Adventure travel brings you closer to your “inner self”, giving you the chance to examine and challenge yourself in ways you didn’t think were possible. Stepping into the unknown and taking a risk demands our increased attention and can bring an intense state of self awareness – one of the reasons that people such as mountain climbers engage in adventure activities. These adventurers often return home with a more relaxed mind and increased self confidence – yet another reason to pack your bags and head for the Himalaya’s Annapurna region for a stunning trek with plenty of time for self reflection!. 6) The outdoors can make you smarter. Immerse yourself in the outdoors and you can increase your higher order cognition in more ways than one! This study found that brain scans taken after exercise showed that the participants had greater and more focused activity in the prefrontal cortex than they did before. What’s more, active adventures help increase activity in your hippocampus, the brain’s main “storage unit”. Typically, the hippocampus decreases as you get older, leading to memory loss, however physical outdoor activity can lead to a chemical reaction in the body that increases the hippocampus. A group of middle aged adults took a forty minute walk three times a week, and over a year grew their hippocampi by 2%! 7) Forge new friendships Take and adventure and gain a friend; if there’s one benefit of an adventure overseas that leaves you with the warm and fuzzy’s, this is it. Embarking on a challenge with other people can bring you closer together- sharing the trials and the triumphs gives you something to bond over, memories to reflect back on and an understanding of each other that can otherwise take weeks or months to build. Whether you’re trekking to Mont Blanc, cycling the Andes or rafting the Franklin River in Tasmania, there’s one thing for sure: you’ll be able to relive those experiences in vivid detail as you laugh over the highlights and mishaps over a cold beer in the evening (or perhaps a 10 year travel tour reunion?). 8) Learn new skills If you ever want to brush up on your skills, a trip abroad is all you need. Travelling creates new challenges and enables you to expand your skillset to cope with these challenges. Whether it’s developing your negotiation skills from haggling souvenir prices in Vietnamese markets, brushing up on your non-oral forms of communication in India, taking a cooking class in Sri Lanka or stretching your physical or mental aptitude with a mountaineering expedition up Island Peak in Nepal. These are skills that can change the way you travel and live your life at home, and will stay with you long after you’ve returned home. 9) Travel Can Save the World There’s more to travel than just experiencing nature’s finest spaces! Embarking on a trip to some of the world’s most remote and untouched corners puts money into the local economy and helps preserve these pristine landscapes. As many of these undamaged destinations are in some of the world’s poorest countries, eco tourism helps these countries in their efforts to save and preserve their land, through organisations that ultimately aim to save the planet. Adventure travellers are needed throughout the world to support these initiatives with their tourism dollars. Also, travelling with eco-friendly and responsible travel companies can have positive changes on animal welfare, waste management, porter protection, communities in need and sustainable development.