An adventure can be defined as a daring and exciting activity calling for enterprise and enthusiasm. Due to studies showing the many benefits of adventure activities, there are now possibilities for adventure travel, adventure therapy, and even adventure prescriptions handed out by physicians.
In other posts, I’ve shared how my personal adventures have changed the way I view myself and Nature, as well as my interpretation of life. Driving new roads, hiking trails surrounded by wilderness, climbing, camping, discovering areas with immense natural beauty, and exploring the architecture, culture, and history of new destinations: these are the activities that have illuminated me from within, rehabilitating and revitalizing me from a miserable, burned-out existence. Without having read any studies, I knew these experiences must be healthy. Now I’ve seen proof, and I want to share it with you.
In an article written for Good Nature Travel, Candace Andrews, world traveler & nature writer, says adventure travel is good for physical & mental health as well as the planet. According to Andrews, regular hiking can increase the size of the hippocampus and help prevent age-related memory loss. Adventures can also help us better cope with uncertainty, a skill that we could all use more of these days. She goes on to imply that adventure travelers typically have a better appreciation for Nature, and are therefore more likely to help protect Her.
In a paper on Research Gate, three university authors look at various studies on adventure therapy (AT) and their outcomes. Key characteristics of adventure therapy, the paper states, are challenge, risk, reflection, novel settings, and experiential learning. AT invites the participant to act, make quick decisions, and move their bodies in new ways. These actions, once assimilated into previously learned behaviors and attitudes, can translate into “real life” benefits, like increased courage, adaptability, and self-confidence at work and home.
According to a study in the journal Neuron shared on the National Institute of Health website, adventurous behavior makes us feel good; it fires up the same regions of the brain as reward. And Frank Farley, Ph.D., former President of the American Psychological Association, says that adventurous people have a sense of flourishing in their lives. I can vouch for that!
An article in the Children and Nature Network Research Library reviews the long-term benefits of outdoor adventure programs for youngsters under the age of 25. The lasting impacts (maintained at least a year after the program) most reported included independence, life skills, confidence, and the willingness to try new things.
A 2018 essay from The Guardian announced that General Practitioners in Scotland were starting to write prescriptions for outdoor adventures. Patients are instructed to go hill walking on Shetland’s upland moors, directed towards coastal paths to watch fulmars, to beachcomb for shells, and spot long-tailed ducks, oystercatchers and lapwings, the article reads. The adventures are prescribed to assist patients in improving specific health conditions, of course, but I like to think of all the unexpected peripheral benefits they’ll gain, as well.
Due to covid restrictions putting a hiatus on going and doing, I feel the last year and a half has just flown. David Eagleman, Neuroscientist at Stanford University, says, The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass. By embracing new adventures, we provide our brains with opportunities to record novel, diverse experiences, expanding our sense of time.
The human body thrives on adventure, whether a result of travel, AT programs, physician prescriptions, or other fun activities. My adventures have changed my thinking and given me a more positive sense of being in the world, causing me to feel truly alive. Are you blessed with an adventurous spirit? If not, in the pursuit of health and well-being, what can a little more daring, excitement, enterprise, and enthusiasm do for you?
Blessings for Adventure,
The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.