Hiking must complement Downtown life

Recent studies have shown outdoor activities are more than just a nice way for students to spend a day or two — they’re vital to their mental and physical health.

According to a study by Frances “Ming” Kuo, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, access to nature and green environments enhances self-discipline and mental health overall.

“In greener settings, we find that people are more generous and more sociable,” Kuo said to EurekAlert.org, an online science news service.

During these last few weeks of class, students often get so buried in work they need something that refreshes them and puts them in the positive mindset to work in the first place.

Not only can outdoor activities help us refocus, they can also improve our school work by lowering our stress levels.

Admittedly, after classes, homework and the internships activities like hiking are probably not at the top of most people’s list.

Still, last Monday, I decided to ditch my bed and blankets and venture to Topanga State Park. In complete and utter solitude, I hiked the Topanga Park Loop, an eight-mile hike offering many scenes of natural beauty.

I realized wandering around Topanga State Park that Kuo was right — nature really does have a positive impact on people.

It might seem like a waste of time, but in the midst of studying for finals and writing term papers, getting out of the city is a worthwhile investment.

During these last crucial weeks, taking a break to experience the outdoors can also increase students’ physical ability to effectively study for finals.

Kuo also found exposure to parks and green environments have a positive impact on physical health. Spending time in green environments can lead to increased cardiovascular capacity as well as improved immune system functions.

In a fast-paced environment, students might not realize the negative impact of living in the middle of  an urban city.

Forbes magazine recently ranked Los Angeles as America’s second-most stressful city, finding “22.8 percent of Angelinos reported that their health was less than good.”

If anyone feels compelled to go on a hike during the break between classes and finals, it will be a rewarding experience unlike anything USC’s campus and surrounding sidewalks can offer.


David Morris is a sophomore majoring in English (creative writing).

2 replies
  1. Turdle
    Turdle says:

    Who would have thought that breathing smoggy air from all directions 24 hours a day, being surrounded by throngs of people, incessant blaring of sirens and helicopters, IN ADDITION to rigorous academics, would have a detrimental impact on people’s mental health? You don’t say!

    As much as urban environments facilitate networking and relationships to an extent, they also severely impact people’s wellbeing on an individual level. Add to that the fact that SC’s downtown locale offers very little in the realm of nature and solitude, and you’re kinda screwed. Manhattan and NYC as a whole are a fraction of LA’s size yet they still had the forethought and prioritization to designate and cherish a place like Central Park. That there is nothing even remotely comparable in the heart of LA is a sad state of affairs. Welp, too late now.

  2. Janet M.
    Janet M. says:

    David, I am a writer who lives in Topanga Canyon. I completely agree with the virtue of time spent walking in nature. I do it daily. Inspiration and solutions come as i free my mind and get the heart rate up a bit. Then back to work.

    Make it a life long habit. Not bragging, but motivating you, such a regime earned me a summa cum laude upon graduating from UCLA. Now in my 70s I’m still at it. My doctor says 70 is the new 50. It surely keeps the brain and body going.

    Wishing you a long creative life!

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