Hiking makes for happier, more productive students

By Kylee Smith 

Online Editor 

Hiking is a great activity that allows individuals to decompress, promotes creativity and reduces depression as well as anxiety. 

Amarillo sits 25 miles north of the ‘Grand Canyon of Texas,’ Palo Duro Canyon. This canyon is made up of 12 hiking trails, three biking trails and six campgrounds. 

With Palo Duro Canyon being so close you would think that more locals would take advantage of what it has to offer, right? Wrong. 

Many Texas Panhandle natives have never visited the state park before, and if they had it was on a field trip back in elementary school. I was disappointed to hear that not many of my friends and family visit this state park regularly. This blows my mind because it is a cheap resource not only to get outside and be out in nature but also to support mental health. 

Studies have shown that hiking positively activates the hippocampus and the retrosplenial cortex which aids in memory and long-term brain health. This is one of the many reasons why I believe it is crucial for students to get out and hike. 

Trust me, I understand how busy life can be when you are trying to juggle class work, a job or two, friends and children.

Taking a step back every once in a while to get outdoors and connect with nature slows your brain down and grounds you. This will in turn improve focus, build stronger bones, bigger muscles and even improve heart and respiratory health.

Personally, I have seen a huge impact on my school work and even in some aspects of my social life. I try to go on a half-day or full-day hike at least every other week and even every week if I can cram it into my schedule. 

I have found it to be a great opportunity to get my friends and family outdoors and spend quality time with them. 

It has also been a great way for me to disconnect from the rest of the world. I can confidently say that I speak for everyone when I say that we need a break from our cell phones. On the majority of hiking trails service will be extremely spotty, so there is no better time to truly disconnect.

I believe that if every student were to spend more time on the trails we would see better grades, more participation, and more driven students. I urge students to get outside and take advantage of what this area has to offer. 

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