International Mountain Day 2023: Health benefits of hiking and mountain climbing | Health

Exploring natural terrains, a satisfying climb to the summit, and spending time under the sun while mountaineering and hiking can be among the most valuable experiences one can ever accumulate. Life is full of challenges, yet taking on one is exhilarating and fulfilling. It fills you with a sense of accomplishment and gives you stories for lifetime to share with your friends, children, and grandchildren. Apart from being a memorable experience, mountain climbing and hiking has its own set of benefits for your long-term health which can improve quality of your life to a significance extent. Working on your fitness levels doesn’t have to be repetitive and boring. With mountaineering, achieving your ideal weight couldn’t be more fun. The process of preparing your body for climbing mountains in itself can make it more flexible, agile and fit. (See pics: International Mountain Day 2023: Most beautiful mountains in the world)

Working on your fitness levels doesn’t have to be repetitive and boring. With mountaineering, achieving your ideal weight couldn’t be more fun. (Photo by Lucas Clara on Unsplash)

“In a world filled with bustling cities and fast-paced lifestyles, the celebration of International Mountain Day serves as a reminder to reconnect with nature. Beyond their awe-inspiring beauty, mountains offer a myriad of health benefits, especially through activities like hiking and mountain climbing. As we celebrate the majesty of these towering landscapes, let’s delve into the incredible ways these activities contribute to our overall well-being,” says Dr. Vikramjeet Singh, Senior Consultant-Internal Medicine, Aakash Healthcare, New Delhi.

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Dr Singh in an interview with HT Digital shares wonderful health benefits of hiking and mountain climbing.

Physical fitness and cardiovascular health

Hiking and mountain climbing are excellent cardiovascular workouts. The uneven terrain, steep inclines, and rocky paths engage various muscle groups, enhancing overall fitness. These activities promote heart health by improving blood circulation, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and enhancing the efficiency of the respiratory system.

Stress reduction and mental well-being

The serene landscapes and fresh mountain air create a therapeutic environment that aids stress reduction. The physical exertion releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters, promoting a sense of well-being. Additionally, the meditative aspects of being surrounded by nature contribute to reduced anxiety and improved mental clarity.

Enhanced balance and coordination

Navigating through rocky trails and uneven terrains requires constant adjustments and balance. Engaging in hiking and climbing helps enhance proprioception, improving overall balance and coordination. This not only contributes to better physical performance but also reduces the risk of falls in daily life.

Vitamin D absorption

Spending time outdoors exposes the body to natural sunlight, a rich source of vitamin D. This essential vitamin is crucial for bone health, immune system function, and mental well-being. Hiking and climbing provide an opportunity to soak in the sun’s rays, ensuring an adequate supply of vitamin D.

Improved sleep quality

Physical activity in the mountains leads to a more restful sleep. The combination of fresh air, increased physical exertion, and the calming effects of nature contribute to better sleep quality. Adequate rest is essential for overall health, aiding in recovery and rejuvenation.

Sense of achievement and self-empowerment

Reaching the summit of a mountain or completing a challenging trail instils a profound sense of achievement and self-empowerment. Overcoming obstacles and pushing personal boundaries during these activities can boost confidence and resilience, positively impacting mental health.

Social connection and community bonding

Hiking and climbing often involve group activities, fostering social connections and community bonding. Shared experiences in the great outdoors create lasting memories and strengthen interpersonal relationships, contributing to a sense of belonging and emotional well-being.

“These activities not only provide a physical challenge but also offer a holistic approach to health, encompassing mental, emotional, and social aspects. So, lace up your hiking boots, embrace the summit, and embark on a journey towards a healthier and happier life.

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