Research Shows

Remember when I told you yesterday that winter had returned with a vengeance over the weekend?  Well, what I didn’t tell you was that it sleeted and snowed enough to cancel school not only yesterday but today as well!

You will never hear me complain about a snow day, but I’m starting to get a little concerned about having to make up all these days.  When May comes around, the last thing anybody wants is extra days before summer can officially begin.

I especially want summer to come sooner rather than later because that means John and I can head west for our two weeks in the mountains.  The closer we get to spring and summer, the more I get backpacking on the brain.

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You may remember the post I wrote on the “Walk Off The War” program by Warrior Hike several months ago.  For those of you who missed it, “Walk Off The War” is a program to support the transition of returning combat veterans into normal life by hiking some of America’s greatest long-distance trails.  The idea is to use the great outdoors as the ultimate form of therapy, and now it seems that science is backing that up.

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A study was recently conducted out of Georgia Southern University among six combat veterans who had completed the Appalachian Trail through the Warrior Hike program.

The study sought to determine the tangible benefits these veterans received from long-distance hiking, and the results were not surprising.  I’ve been bragging about the therapeutic properties of hiking for years!

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The study found four reoccurring themes as they talked to each of the participants.  Many veterans experience difficulty in establishing and reestablishing relationships post-service.  They found that, through hiking the Appalachian, they quickly connected with their fellow hikers as well as other people they met along the way.

The second theme the researchers discovered was that the trail seemed to give the veterans a chance to transition slowly back into regular life and determine exactly what they wanted for the future.  Each veteran expressed a desire to make tangible life changes and felt that the experience on the trail gave them the confidence to do so.

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Many of the study participants acknowledged struggling with psychological disorders such as PTSD.  They felt the being on the trail gave them the chance to reflect and decompress, and thought that the time in nature helped them a chance to heal.

Lastly, the participants all seemed to value the large amount of alone time that they received on the trail.  This gave each of them a chance to think, process, and come to terms with their experiences. Many felt that the opportunity to work through some of the emotions without distractions was invaluable.

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For almost two years, I’ve been using this platform as a way to talk about my love for backpacking and all the benefits it supplies.  Just getting out into the mountains provides me with no small amount of relief from the stress of everyday life.  Obviously, I am so glad that those benefits are now being recognized and extended to those who have given so much to all of us.

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If you would like to learn more, you can read the findings from Southern Georgia University here.  Of course, I encourage you to check out Warrior Hike and their “Walk Off The War” program and become familiar with some of the great men and women that are making it possible!

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All the pictures in this post are from various hikes John and I have done.  The beauty of the great outdoors is incredible therapy!

What activity helps you to work out stress?

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8 thoughts on “Research Shows

  1. Mom

    As I was looking at the pictures, I thought they must have come from other sources. Wow! beautiful pictures I have not seen.

  2. Tamara @ Lively Happenings

    Thanks for sharing about “Walk Off the War”, it’s incredibly intriguing! The mountains are always calling my name, I wish I lived in them, but alas I really do hate the cold/snow so would only make the summer months! Your hikes look beautiful and make me excited about summer coming, I hope you don’t have to do make-up days.

  3. Shauna Joye

    Hi Natalie, we are STOKED that you loved our study & glad for the publicity. Since we are still working on getting our results formally published, please just give us a heads up in the future before you put our handouts online :) That way we can keep track. Yay research! And yay Warrior Hike!


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