home Opinion Keep Calm and Walk On!

Keep Calm and Walk On!

A person once said to me that you can’t climb a mountain with downhill thoughts.

This is not only true in life, but also can be literally applied to- you guessed it, folks-

climbing an actual mountain! With the new year just beginning and fad diets and illuminous

lycra in full swing, there is no doubt that many people have committed to their resolutions of

getting fit and being healthy. From disco spinning to H.I.T. classes to jazzercize (yes that

exists!), we aren’t short of new and exciting ways to exercise. However, the cheapest and

most simple way of paring back that spare tyre is often overlooked and forgotten about. Yes,

the humble walk is more often seen as a necessary mode of transport than a form of actual

exercise. But combine all that walking with holistic hills and majestic mountains and you get,

drumroll please, hill-walking. Absolutely mind-blowing!

Now what’s so great about hill-walking you may ask? Is that not just unnecessary

strain and muck and rain and wind and turmoil? Well, yes… it is, actually (sorry to burst the

bubble of all you future hill-walking enthusiasts). However, combined, they create something

special, something magical even. The fresh air flowing through your veins, the wind in your

hair, and birdsong in your ears make you feel more alive than ever, offering a sense of peace

and calm and escapism from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Mind you, invest in a pair

of good waterproof boots as nothing also makes you feel more “alive” than wet socks in

squelching boots. Believe me I’ve been there, carrying around a whole aquatic ecosystem in

my boots for three hours was not one of my best life experiences I can tell you. You’ve been

Warned!

Not many forms of exercise can boast such a range of physical and mental benefits,

all absolutely free! It is one of the more sociable exercises as it is possible to keep up a

conversation throughout the hike, even if that does end up in making occasional strange and

sporadic sounds just to get a gulp of air. Mindfulness is an unavoidable added bonus to

hill-walking. The breath-taking scenery and immersion in the natural world make you

uncannily more aware of your surroundings and the immediate moment. Of course nothing

forces you to be more present in the moment than climbing up a never-ending,

steeply-sloping hill. (On a side note, we have a hill in my local area aptly known as

‘Heart-Attack Hill’…I wonder why?). But wow, does the struggle pay off when you reach the

summit! An overwhelming sense of achievement (and relief) rushes through your body and

you can’t help but give yourself a little pat on the back.

It is no surprise that hiking increasing serotonin levels, the happy hormone, in your

body. It lowers cholesterol, reduces memory loss and strengthens your muscles. It can even

reduce your risk of stroke by 30%. A study on hill-walking showed that just 75 minutes of

walking a week can add almost two years to your life. Now, what’s not to love about

hill-walking? Okay, probably the wet socks and muck up to your knees to be honest, but life

is all about experiences, right? We are lucky to have such amazing countryside in Ireland just

waiting to be explored. All you need is a pair of walking boots and a mind filled with uphill

thoughts. So, folks, why are you still sitting?