Matthew Iovane is an angel investor, beverage start-up entrepreneur, and real estate investor based between New York and Los Angeles.
Matthew’s foray into the beverage industry began at an early age as the son of a noted restaurateur based in London, England. He has had over 12 years of experience in beverage brand management as a leader and innovator at Red Bull, Whyte & McKay, and Bacardi. As a seasoned veteran, he went on to launch beverage brands from inception as a partner at internationally acclaimed Junmai sake brand HEAVENSAKE www.heavensake.com and most recently, as partner and investor at Bloc Collective, a pre-mix canned cocktail www.bloc-collective.com.
Matthew is also the Founder and CEO of Outpost Estates LDT, a private real estate portfolio comprising residential homes in central London, England. His passion for architecture and interior design allows his invested interest in real estate to come naturally.
Matthew holds a B.S. in Philosophy with Science and A.I. from the University of Hertfordshire, England. While currently based in the U.S., he maintains citizenship in the United Kingdom, United States, and Italy.
What is your favorite hobby?
Hiking! Hiking is an exciting outdoor activity suited for any season of the year but particularly fun during fall. This is when the colors become vivid, temperatures reach the optimum levels, and trekking up a mountain would be phenomenal. During such times, hiking provides the perfect moment to spend afternoons. But beyond the utter beauty and the appreciation of nature that comes with setting off on a trail, hiking is also an activity that bursts with health benefits.
All exercise is good for us. Whether using an elliptical trainer, riding a stationary bike, or walking on a treadmill, getting your heart rate up and working out your lungs keep you feeling younger and stronger. Exercise also helps your brain, thanks to the extra oxygenation that comes with it.
But hiking involves something many other forms of exercise don’t: trails. That means it requires navigating in a world that’s not predictable. Slippery dirt, overhanging branches, hidden obstacles, trail markers, and wild animals crossing your path—all of the things you might encounter on a trail require micro- and macro-adjustments to your route, which is good for your brain.
As Daniel Levitin explains in his book Successful Aging, hiking exercises the part of your brain designed to help you navigate through life—for example, the retrosplenial cortex and the hippocampus, which aids in memory, too—which is why hiking not only helps your heart but helps your mind stay sharp, as well. Hiking helps to keep you calm and happy.
Exercise in general can be a great stress-buster. But what sets hiking apart from other forms of exercise is that it’s done outdoors in a natural setting. While other physical activities also rely on nature—for example, river rafting or backpacking—those often require more time and commitment than a simple hike and are less accessible to many people. Hiking can happen almost anywhere—from a city park or public garden to a mountain trail—and give you that dose of nature you need to stay happy.
Research is quite clear on the benefits of being in nature while exercising. Studies have found that, compared to walking in a cityscape or along a road, walking in green spaces helps us recover from “attention overload”—the mental fatigue that comes from living and working in a world where computers and cell phones are a constant distraction.
Being in nature is calming, too, and studies have found that people who spend time walking in nature are less anxious and suffer less rumination (thinking about the same worries or regrets over and over again), which should help protect against depression.
While it’s not totally clear why nature provides these psychological perks, researcher Craig Anderson and others have found that being in nature encourages feelings of awe—a state of wonder coupled with a sense of being small in the presence of something bigger than yourself. Awe is a powerful emotion that has many benefits, including improving your mood and making you feel more generous.
Hiking helps your relationships
It may be obvious that hiking is good for our physical and emotional health. But there is mounting evidence that it helps our relationships, too.
One reason is that many of us hike with other people, and exercising together can produce special feelings of closeness—and a sense of safety. I’m sure when a friend of mine recently fell on a trail and severely fractured her ankle, she was glad to have company to help her hobble down the mountain for help. But, even in less dire circumstances, having a friend along can be a lovely way to connect with another person in a setting free of other distractions.
In one study, mothers and daughters who spent 20 minutes walking in an arboretum (versus a shopping mall) not only showed better attention during a cognitive task, but also had improved interactions with each other, according to independent raters. Specifically, they demonstrated more connection and positive emotions and fewer negative emotions after walking in the natural setting. Other research suggests that exposure to nature can help our relationships by making us more empathic, helpful, and generous.
What about hiking alone? Personally, I’ve often found that hiking alone helps me in my relationships, likely for all of the reasons above—it helps me reduce my stress, refreshes my depleted attention, and produces awe. And, when I’m feeling good, those effects spill over into my interactions with others once I return from the hike.
For anyone who spends a lot of time caregiving for other people, it can be rejuvenating to let go of that responsibility for a bit and take to a trail. After all, it can’t help but refresh you when you give yourself a break, making you more emotionally available to others afterward.
I’m sure I’m not alone in finding that walks in nature let my mind wander freely in creative directions.
Though we often read about philosophers or artists who’ve found creative inspiration in natural spaces, science is just beginning to document the connections between being in nature and creativity. David Strayer and his colleagues tested young adults in an Outward Bound program before and after they spent three days hiking in wilderness, and the participants showed increased creative thinking and problem-solving after the experience. Other studies have found connections between creative thinking and nature experiences, too, although they weren’t focused on hiking specifically.
Some scholars believe that these benefits for creativity have to do with how natural settings allow our attention to soften and our minds to wander in ways that can help us connect disparate ideas that are swirling around in our minds. Others suggest that the spaciousness and unpredictability in natural scenery somehow enhance creativity. Whatever the case, if being in nature increases creativity—which is tied to well-being—it might behoove creative types to spend a little more time on a trail.
Hiking helps cement a positive relationship with the natural world
Besides being good for us, hiking may also help the world around us. After all, if we have the stamina to walk places and cover longer distances, we could use cars less and reduce our carbon footprint.
Beyond that, hiking benefits our planet indirectly, because it increases our connection to nature. Developing a positive relationship with the natural world can help us to care about its fate, making us more committed to conservation efforts. At least one study has suggested that when we have a personal connection to nature, we are more likely to want to protect it. That means experiences in nature—like hiking—can be mutually beneficial, helping people and the earth.
This all goes to show that hiking may be one of the best ways to move your body, and I, personally, have recommitted to hiking regularly in the new year. Instead of spending all day every day in front of a computer, I’m taking time to walk outside—even if it’s just for 15 minutes. And I’m definitely noticing improvements in my mood, creativity, and relationships, as well as a growing sense of spiritual connection to the natural world.
How did you get started with it?
Hiking is the perfect way for me to explore a new place. Rather than just hanging out in a joint, hiking gives me something to do as I explore a place I’ve never been to. It also helps me enjoy the moment by exploring the various topographical features of the area, such as hills, mountains, and rivers. Every minute of a hike feels like an adventure, and this helps me long for the next hike.
Tell us what you love about it.
Hiking Makes Me Happier
Apart from just passing time during those lazy and boring afternoons, hiking is also vital in bringing joy and happiness. In extension, staying happy is good for my health and general well-being. Think of hiking as an additional therapy, especially for individuals who suffer from depression. What’s more, hiking impacts on self-perception and self-esteem positively, therefore making me happier overall.
Hiking involves exploring different areas, with different terrains and conditions. On several occasions during a hiking session, I encounter challenges that require me to apply my problem-solving skills. Research also shows that creativity levels go up by about 50% after a hike. Additionally, hiking helps me stay sharp and ready to overcome any challenges that come my way.
Hiking Helps Put Nature Into Perspective
Hiking helps me appreciate nature in the best way possible. Going up the mountains or hills, through the woods, and along the plains, hiking gives me a perfect chance to get in touch with nature. Often, it reminds me of how small I am and how vast the world is.
Hiking Gives Me Space
The first thing that comes to mind when I want to escape the real world is hiking. Spending time strolling out in the woods gives me a sense of peace and helps me step out of my day-to-day life. Busy schedules and social media hullabaloo can be overwhelming. Hiking is the perfect activity to escape the real-world chaos and is, therefore, a no-brainer for me.
Hiking Presents Breath-Taking Views
Exploring a feature-endowed area helps me enjoy some of the best views nature can offer. Imagine enjoying the view of a river stretch from the heights of a mountain! Hiking along plains may also open up to small lakes which provide fantastic views.
Hiking Is Refreshing
Nothing beats a breath of fresh air! While the air in suburbs and cities is massively polluted, hiking offers the opportunity to soak in the clean and fresh air, especially on mountain tops. This gives a refreshing feeling accompanied by a sense of contentment and is also good for the health of any hiker.
What types of things/equipment have you spent money on for your hobby?
- Hiking backpack.
- Weather-appropriate clothing (think moisture-wicking and layers)
- Hiking boots or shoes.
- Plenty of food.
- Plenty of water.
- Navigation tools such as a map and compass.
- First-aid kit.
- Knife or multi-tool.
What are some of your favorite places to shop for your hobby?
REI, Only REI! I love that place so much
How has your hobby changed your life?
Helps Me Meet New People
Hiking is a social activity which most people enjoy. I often meet new groups of hikers every time I set out for hiking. Every time I visit a new place, I meet new people who share the same joy of hiking like me, thereby extending my hiking network.
Hiking Improves My Health And Fitness Levels
Hiking involves long durations of walking and climbing, which helps stretch and exercise virtually every muscle of my body. During my first hike, I experienced muscle cramping but that changed over several hikes. After several hikes, my muscle strength increased and my levels of endurance went up significantly. What’s more, hiking is associated with reduced blood pressure, low-stress levels, and increased stamina.
Hiking Helps Elevate All My Senses
Unlike on the streets where I am accustomed to walking like a soldier, hiking helps me exercise freedom, thereby setting my senses free. Hiking helps me keep all my senses alive and active: eyes surveying my surrounding, ears keeping track of any strange sounds, skin feeling the breeze, and the nose collecting any aroma in the woods. All of this helps me feel connected to Mother Nature even more.
What advice do you have for others just starting out?
It should be enjoyable and challenging, work within your limits to start off with and enjoy the journey. So, grab a water bottle, a backpack, and, if you want, a friend, and head out on the trail. You won’t be sorry you did.
Are you involved in Social Media? If you are please provide the links below:
- Facebook: matthew Iovane
- Instagram: @matthewiovane
- Twitter: @iovanematthew
- Linkedin: @matthewiovane