Carla J. Swick is a freelance writer who resides in NW Pennsylvania. She has discovered solace in hiking the woods behind her property.
One Day We Took A Hike
What did you do when the world shut down? Did you stay home, work from home, shop online and limit your interaction with others? Apart from the challenges of the pandemic, we (my husband and I) had already had a tough year which I wrote about here. We looked around our property one day and decided to take a hike.
Our 3.3 acre property borders a wooded area and field and we were not 100% sure what was beyond. So we took off through our woods, down an access road across a field and followed an ATV trail into some even bigger woods. What opened up before us was the absolute beauty that only nature can provide. It was winter in Northwest Pennsylvania and our hikes were magical. Winding through trees we discovered a small creek, a power line with a challenging hill (especially in a foot of snow), yet another road and after a few tries the pièce de résistance - the lovely French Creek.
The Benefits of Hiking in the Forest
As the pandemic wore on, we recognized the benefit of nature and our hikes. In January, I read an interesting article on the positive psychological effects of being in the forest (AKA “forest bathing”). I started looking around at other studies.
A study by Song, et al.,"... revealed that walking through forest areas decreased the negative moods of depression-dejection, tension-anxiety, anger-hostility, fatigue, and confusion and improved the participants' positive mood of vigor compared with walking through city areas." Hurray for hiking!
Another study by Bratman, et al. in the Journal of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences revealed that, "Participants who went on a 90-min walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness compared with those who walked through an urban environment." Hurray for hiking in the woods!
And finally, Bielinis, et al. did a study that suggested that snow might influence people, "... as a calming and emotion lowering component of the environment." Hurray for hiking in the woods in snow!
The Northwest Pennsylvania Corp Of Discovery Channel is Born
One of the most surprising things about contemplating the beauty and benefits of hiking in the forest is, with all we strive for as humans, this environment is not manufactured by man. It's free and beautiful just the way it is. This brought about a discussion regarding those who could not experience hiking due to physical limitations or location. We made a decision to share some of what we were experiencing so that others might benefit as well.
Thus, our Northwest Pennsylvania Corps of Discovery – Hike with us YouTube channel was born. It is still a work in progress as the months tick past, but we'd love to have you SUBSCRIBE. There are 12 months of four unique seasons in Northwest Pennsylvania. Won't you hike with us?