Trek to health

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GO TREKKING It not only helps lose calories but also improves overall health
GO TREKKING It not only helps lose calories but also improves overall health

Snow-capped mountains can be a place to relax your stressed out muscles

"I'm going to the Himalayas," someone should say and see the varied reactions. Sometimes there is shock, and sometimes, surprise. Especially if the traveller is young, "Why at this young age?" will be the next question. But why people fail to see the snow-capped mountains as a place to relax their stressed out muscles, to breathe the wispy cold air or just as a place to trek , is puzzling. "Health is the natural state of human beings. Disease is the distorted state of health. Urban lifestyles tend to distort that natural state and it is important to go up the mountains like the Himalayas to rediscover one's original state of health," says Swami Akshara, founder, Akshara Foundations. He has trekked in the Himalayas and the mountains in Japan and taken Foundation volunteers to Gomukh, the origin of the Ganges, 18 km on foot from Gangotri. "Trekking in the Himalayas is like reaching the source of one's being and personality from where health and disease manifest themselves at various times," he says.Joseph Mathew of Mumbai has been trekking for the past 17 years. He says 80 per cent of the trekkers in India are `unfortunately' foreigners. "Indians don't seem to evince much interest in outdoor activities or in being amidst Nature." Trekking should be introduced to children in schools and colleges as is being done abroad, he says.

The benefits

Sharing this view is Suganya Velauthem, Speech Language Pathologist, working with middle school children at the Passaic Public Schools through EBS Healthcare, New Jersey. "Trekking has both mental and physical benefits," she says. Primarily, it helps one achieve a calm state of mind. It also enables one to lose calories, build up stamina and overall health. "Trekking should be undertaken in a relaxed state of mind, rather than in a rush," says Suganya. Her school takes students on treks to the numerous mountainous places nearby. Walking can undoubtedly be conferred the title `The king of fitness schedules.' Fitness experts and doctors recommend walking for several medical conditions. A step above walking comes trekking up mountain slopes. A recent visit to the Himalayas and trekking on the tar, cemented, stone-paved and muddy tracks at Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath and Haridwar, gave trekkers from Chennai and many parts of the country a taste of the multiple-health benefits of trekking in the mountains. Studies show trekking improves basic metabolic rate, controls obesity, prevents heart disease and improves breath synchrony. Walking is the simplest form of exercise that helps control hypertension, diabetes and osteoporosis.

What you need?

For trekkers, the primary requirement is a good pair of shoes. Support from one or two walking sticks is optional. Weight may be carried on the shoulder in alignment with the spinal cord as a backpack. This will help maintain the centre of gravity and provide stability to the trekker. The most important rule in trekking is to take one step at a time, breathing in and out deeply and being aware of the whole process. In between an arduous trek, it is important to rest a while, till your breathing is even. And what better way to shed those extra calories than through perspiration and burning fat? At the same time, one can drink in the beauty of snowy mountain peaks, silvery waterfalls and gurgling rivers.SWAHILYA




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