Adventure makes you smarter & sexier, says science

How do you spruce up your CV and your Tinder profile in one hit? You go on an adventure.
Just another smart adventurer © James Shackell/Unsplash
By James Shackell

Scientists seem to spend a lot of time growing ears on mice and working on de-seeding various fruits, but occasionally they use their microscopes for something really serious, like figuring out why adventures are so damn good for us.

It turns out, not only does adventuring make you interesting, in a sort of swashbuckling outdoorsy kind of way, but it makes your smarter, more productive at work and (!!!!) more attractive to the opposite sex. Yeah science! If science was a person I’d be high-fiving it right about now. As if we needed another reason to chuck sickies and go hit the open road.

Want proof? Science is good at that. Here’s a bunch of it.

Adventures help you stay young

David Eagleman is an American neuroscientist who has spent his life studying the minutiae of the brain and how it relates to our perception of time. He was given the moniker ‘The Possibilian’ by The New Yorker, which sounds a little like a super hero. Point is, he knows his stuff.

Eagleman claims that an adult’s sense of time is more ‘compressed’ than little Timmy the five year-old, but by travelling to new places (particularly exotic places with heaps of new stimuli) we can essentially reset our cognition. “It essentially puts you, neurally, in the same position as when you were a child,” Eagleman said. Maybe this is why time flies when you’re on holiday, although kids aren’t weighed down by apprehensions of future work and deadlines. Lucky sods.

Adventuring in numbers: both smart AND fun © James Shackell/Unsplash

Adventures make you smarter

They say travel broadens the mind, but really it sharpens it. A psychological study conducted at Indiana University found that by merely imagining we’re on an adventure, we improve our creativity and self awareness. That means that sitting at work and flicking through pics of some beautiful Tahitian beach or some untouched hiking trails, technically, good for you.

The author of the study, Jonah Lehrer, said, “The experience of another culture endows the traveller with a valuable open-mindedness, making it easier for him or her to realise that a single thing can have multiple meanings.” The effect was found to be even more profound during travel itself, particularly in exotic destinations or doing crazy stuff that jogs your brain out of its day-to-day lethargy.

Three smart hikers, cleverly avoiding the ridge © James Shackell/Unsplash

Adventures make you better at your day job

America tends to defend its paltry two weeks of holiday a year under the guise of ‘good work ethic’. The idea is that Americans are far too busy being productive and nailing deadlines to faff around taking trips everywhere. But studies have shown the reverse to be true. Some stats pulled together by BusinessesWeek prove that countries that take more holidays are just as, if not more, productive than the US.

In France, they take 60% more days off than the States each year, and still achieve 98% GDP per hour worked. Forbes estimated that just one day of extra leave each year could contribute $73 billion to the US economy, which proves a) travel is important and b) numbers are fun when you make them up. This kind of backs up the recent changes in Scandinavia and the introduction of the six-hour work day: the time has come to work smarter, not harder.

Sunset + backpack? Instant sex appeal © James Shackell/Unsplash

Adventures make you sexy (and white-knuckle adventures make you even sexier)

OK, this one isn’t too scientific. A study conducted by (‘study’ may be pushing it) revealed that adventuring around in your North Face jacket ups your sex appeal big time. The survey found that out of 882 single Australian adults, more than half found people who listed ‘travel’ as an interest, more attractive.

It doesn’t stop there either: the more adventurous the travel, the sexier it is. ‘Daring travellers’ were voted by singles to be the most alluring (‘daring’ wasn’t defined, but I think it has something to do with not showering much and eating caribou), while 23% of people found ‘adventure seekers’ extremely sexy.

What we can learn from this is, if you’ve recently travelled to Sydney and anyone asks, you travelled to the Congo and wrestled a silverback gorilla for dominance. And then Instagrammed it.

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