Tag Archives: backpacking

Veterans: Unplug and Get Back To Nature

“The data across age groups —regular folks from age 18 into their 60s — showed an almost 50 percent increase in creativity.”

Remember: your yoga mat can double as a sleeping mat in the great outdoors.


This week, a great study published by the University of Kansas shows that a few days in the wilderness on outdoor adventures significantly increases creativity. The study was done in partnership with Outward Bound Colorado, and tested four backpacking groups that made up a study group of 120 participants. Some were tested prior to taking off, others were tested four days into the trip. The result showed a 50 percent increase in creativity, insight and problem solving.

While electronics have become second nature to us, all this plugging-in can also increase a sense of obligation to either maintain levels of connectedness, which can come at the expense of maintaining connections to our surroundings, and those around us. As much as I like practicing yoga on the mat, many people roll it up once class is done and get back to their smart phones. In other words, they go back to what they were doing before. Outdoor excursions though, especially ones that take a person away for a few days, allow them to completely decompress from the obligations of social networking and see their lives without (what I call) the static noise.

So unplug, move, breathe, get outside –even if it’s just a one hour walk each day. As one of the researchers stated:

“There’s growing advantage over time to being in nature,” said Ruth Ann Atchley. “We think that it peaks after about three days of really getting away, turning off the cell phone, not hauling the iPad and not looking for internet coverage. It’s when you have an extended period of time surrounded by that softly fascinating environment that you start seeing all kinds of positive effects in how your mind works.”

One outlet is the Outward Bound for Veterans program. Several of my friends have been on one, and friend Sebastian Junger is an active proponent for these experiences.

“I think the course I went on was very helpful and it allowed me to grow as a person. I was also allowed to talk about things in a calm, accepting environment with open-minded people. It felt good to let out some things I have held on to for a long time.”  -A veteran, Outward Bound for Veterans