Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 31

Hiking is also an aid to clear and creative thought. Scientists suggest that muscles in action keep the brain awake and
drain away emotions, leaving the mind
free to think. Thomas Edison, Abraham
Lincoln and Albert Einstein were just a
few of the world's great minds who did
their best cogitating on foot. Not long
ago, Utah psychologist David Strayer
found that young adults showed marked
increases in creative thinking and problem-solving after spending three days hiking in the wilderness.
In addition to the physical benefits of
hiking, the sights, sounds and smells of
nature may be performing a magic alchemy in your brain. A 2015 Stanford University study found time spent in natural environments (as opposed to urban settings)
calmed activity in a part of the brain that
research has linked to mental illness. In a
similar Japanese study, participants walking in a forest experienced less anxiety,
hostility, fatigue and depressive symptoms than urban walkers. Hanging out
with Mother Nature also seems to reduce

the mind's propensity to "ruminate"-
a word psychologists use for negative,
self-focused patterns of thought that are
linked with anxiety and depression.
Hiking-and other exercise-is just
plain good medicine. Researchers at the
University of Virginia say hiking and muscle building exercise may reduce the risk of
acute respiratory distress syndrome, a major cause of death in patients with the COVID-19 virus. A study by Zhen Yan of the
UVA School of Medicine indicated regular
aerobic and weightlifting exercise can reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms
by increasing the body's production of a
powerful antioxidant that protects body
tissue and fights disease. 	
Atop Angel's Rest, I wasn't thinking
about antioxidants or science. I was enjoying the golden afternoon light, the breeze
through the laurels, and the earned relaxation in my muscles. All the things that
troubled me at the bottom of the mountain-anxiety about coronavirus, petty annoyances, small resentments-had blown
away with the breeze. Life is beautiful.

The Great Appalachian Road trip
call for a free Trip guide
heartofappalachia.com

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5/26/2020 10:24:18 AM
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020 31


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Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020

Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 3
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 4
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 5
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Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - Cover4
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