Hiking Benefits

Hiking Blog

Hiking takes walking, as a healthy exercise, to the next level. Both are excellent cardio workouts, great for the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, our bones, and our muscles. Each will lower our stress levels and is great to support any weight loss program. But hiking gives us the extra piece: it can improve our balance and increase our strength and endurance as we navigate the steep and/or bumpy trails. An old English term used for hiking was “hillwalking”. Walking poles can be included for balance or stability in order to provide additional security and safety.

 

Hiking uses muscles that are rarely used in the gym. It is also considered one of the best ways to burn fat – even that stubborn belly fat. This physical exercise promotes the release of endorphins – the hormones that make you happy.

 

Studies have found that exercise and cardio workouts benefit us – mind, body, and spirit. So why choose to walk outside or hike? For many, exercise can be tedious and boring. Something on our daily routine “have to” list. Not something that brings us pleasure. On a treadmill, an hour can feel like a very long time. So we manage to pass the time by watching TV, reading our emails, and/or talking on our cell phones. By doing this, we are being mindless. Our focus is entirely outside of ourselves. We are still working, still obsessing, still stressed. Being outside, on the other hand, on a hike, maneuvering the trails, time seems to fly by. It also adds the extra dimension of being in beauty. Surrounded by nature, we reduce our levels of anger and fear and increase our feelings of wellbeing.

 

Exercising at the gym or at home is usually a solitary act. Hiking with friends may turn this dull activity into a fun-filled experience. Connecting with friends in a natural setting, can involve opening ourselves up and even allow them to see our limitations, our stumbles, our vulnerability. It encourages us to share stories that we might otherwise keep hidden or have even forgotten. We may deepen some of these friendships, making them more meaningful. There is something very special about sharing this experience with others, making memories, and changing relationships. We may even get out of our egos and become ourselves.

 

Many have written about the benefits of hiking. Lao Tsu wrote, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Ken Ilgunas: “On a hike, you’re less a job title, and more a human being.” “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche. “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.” – Edward Abbey. “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” – Henry David Thoreau.

 

Hiking, whether alone or with others, is a way of enjoying the beauty of nature while promoting mindfulness, as we remain closely aware of what is underfoot so as not to stumble or fall. Focusing on our surroundings and the possible dangers stops the monkey mind from regretting the past and worrying about the future, thereby lowering anxiety and improving our mood. Hiking is also a great way to unplug. Rarely do we see a hiker spending their time on the hills checking emails, texting, taking selfies, or tweeting.

 

Whichever you choose to engage in, whether walking or hiking, remember to dress accordingly, wear the proper footwear, and stay hydrated. Bring your water bottle and, of course, your phone, (just in case of an emergency)!

Gilda By Line11

Meditation

Meditation blog

Most of us have heard the expression, (also the title of a 1962 musical and song), “Stop the World, I want to get off!” During 2020 and into 2021, the world did stop but our minds did not. Our thoughts took us to some very scary places and created a different type of stress – one that filled us with anxiety, depression, fear, grief, and sadness. So, stopping the world, for many, was not the answer to helping us slow down and calming our minds.

 

How do we quiet our monkey minds, cut out the chatter, and become still? My favourite tool is Meditation. It is a way of focusing our attention inwards. Meditation can help us gain a greater self-knowledge; get in touch with our emotions; reduce chronic pain levels; live a fuller, richer life. As our awareness increases, we may become more compassionate and more open to each moment of our lives. For moments in time, we forget about our past regrets and our future fears and focus only on the here and now.

 

According to Edgar Cayce, “Prayer is like talking to God. Meditation is a way of listening to God.”

 

By connecting to the stillness within, we may truly discover our place and purpose in this vast Universe. We cease responding to “situations” or reacting to the words of others, we are simply being. We are no longer connecting to Ego, filled with anger and fear. Instead, we communicate with Spirit, taking an important step towards forgiveness, gratitude, and love. Our hearts open.

 

We become aware and are no longer anxious or worried. During these precious moments, we feel safe with no need to make decisions or plans. We are calm and at peace and, sometimes, we even feel a bubbling of joy. This joy comes from nowhere, connected to nothing, just emanating deeply from within.

 

This stillness even transcends our moments of meditation. Our lives change. We become more conscious and less reactive. We learn to ask for help to see things differently. We may even learn to stop and take a breath before responding to harsh words or uncomfortable situations.

 

Meditation can take many forms. It can vary from Transcendental Meditation, where you repeat an Ayurvedic mantra, to Mindful Meditation, which involves in being in the moment, aware of every sound or thought without reacting, to a basic meditation involving  repeating a word of your choice or simply watching the breath. Most forms of meditation are seated but there are also walking meditations, standing meditations, and eating meditations.

 

Meditation can be guided or silent or accompanied by soft music. It may be done in a group or by oneself. It is performed sitting in a comfortable position, on the floor or in a chair, usually with backs straight and knees bent. Lying down is not recommended because this often ends with falling asleep in the middle of the session. Eyes are usually shut but may remain open. It can be done anywhere and anytime as long as you are not driving a vehicle or using heavy machinery.

 

Meditation is an excellent way to begin and end each day, even if just for 15-20 minutes per session. For many, it changes how their day goes and deepens and improves their sleep.

 

How do you figure out which type of meditation to choose? Just choose a simple method and begin. One of the easiest methods is simply to focus on the breath. Breathing in on the count of four, holding the breath on the count of four, and breathing out on the count of four. Repeat. Or you can simply breath in for four and out for four.

 

Heart Math involves breathing directly into your heart for a count of 4 or 5 and out from your heart for the same number of counts. Feel the relaxation that follows. Feel the stress relief. Is your body sending you messages or guidance? Listen. Your Ego speaks very loudly but your Spirit and intuition speak softly. Feel the gratitude.

 

By meditating at the same time each day, you will develop this new habit. Find a time that works best for you and easiest to maintain. If not, you will probably forget to meditate for days, or even weeks, and eventually stop the practice completely.

 

Meditation is indeed a practice and the more we practise the better we become. The easier it is to go within. The deeper we go. The more benefits we discover. And yes, eventually, no matter what is happening around us, our bodies slow down and our mind is calmed.

Gilda By Line11

Pain

Pain blog image

Do you suffer from debilitating pain? Pain can sometimes be a gift, a message sent from the Central Nervous System to the Brain. It is the body’s way of letting us know that something is wrong, of protecting us from continuing to injure ourselves, making things worse, and, sometimes, telling us that it is time to see a health care professional. There is a TV commercial for a pain drug that says, “When the body says no, ‘……’ says yes.” But, in order to be safe, when the body’s wisdom tells us “no”, we should respond accordingly.

 

Pain after a cut, bite, fall, injury, or a medical procedure is short term and is referred to as acute. In these cases, inflammation is the body’s way of healing and repairing the injured tissue. But, if it continues longterm, even permanently, it is labeled as chronic. Chronic pain is often described as lasting many months after the injury or medical procedure has healed. In most of these cases, the primary origin is excess inflammation. The names given to many painful conditions end in “itis”, denoting inflammation. In the case of arthritis, it involves inflammation of the joints. Inflammation also increases when under stress.

 

Pain may be mild, moderate, severe, constant, occasional, sore, dull, throbbing, sharp, aching, pulsing, stabbing, annoying, uncomfortable, debilitating, or even unbearable. When seeing a doctor or a therapist, being able to identify the type and location of pain can help with the diagnosis and sometimes indicate a particular condition. Some people can point directly to the tiny spot where the pain is felt. Yet, for others, it is in the left shoulder, or in the head, or in the right knee. It may even be referred pain felt, for example, in the right hip and originating from the left side of the neck. Pain can impact our daily activities, work, emotional and psychological well-being, and social activities. 

 

For many, it is worse in the morning and is accompanied by stiffness. Lack of movement during the night can increase morning inflammation. A gentle morning exercise routine may help minimize this discomfort. Doctors used to recommend complete bedrest during painful periods, but this is no longer the case. For most types of chronic conditions, movement and increased blood flow has been seen to promote healing and reduce pain.

 

Waking with a sore neck may be due to poor a sleeping position or to the type of pillow being used. Also, sore backs, are often the result of poor posture. Try standing with your feet pointing straight ahead with a slight pelvic tilt, tummy tucked in, head comfortably forward, shoulders back. This is how to align the spinal chain properly with the joints stacked evenly, one above the other. Your weight will be evenly placed and you will no longer be compensating for a weak area by putting extra pressure on the healthy side. Use your muscles rather than your joints wherever possible.

 

Running shoes may be the best type of footwear, offering additional support, and resulting in a reduction in back pain. When bending, hinge at the hips instead of at the waist. Lift with your knees, never your back, and do not twist your body to reach for something that is off to the right or left. If sitting for hours at a desk or computer, ensure that you have a proper chair, that your arms are at a height that doesn’t put strain on your shoulders, and that you get up every half hour to move.

 

To minimize pain, naturally, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or relaxation techniques can be extremely helpful. One breathing exercise that can be done in bed each morning before rising involves lying down, eyes closed, one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Focus on the breath moving slowly, in through the nose and out through the nose. The count of four for each is comfortable for most. Feel the breath move in, through, and out of your body for even 10-15 minutes. This can be followed by gentle exercises, like bending your knees and moving your legs from one side to the other. Gently and comfortably, move and bend your arms and your legs.

 

There are also many safe physical exercises that result in increased blood flow which will help minimize pain. Some of these include Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Feldenkrais. Stress reduction, 7-8 hours of sleep, and therapies such as massage, acupuncture, osteopathy, and myofascial release can also help tremendously in minimizing pain. Exercise programs that strengthen your abs and glutes, in a safe manner, are extremely helpful.

 

Magnesium is an important supplement that will relax the muscles and improve sleep. A daily vitamin D supplement will improve immunity and strengthen bones and muscles. Also, Boswelia, SAMe, MSM, and fish oil may help reduce chronic pain. Both turmeric, added to food or taken as a supplement, and tart cherry juice, combined with water as a drink one hour before bed, have anti-inflammatory properties.There are also homeopathic remedies that may reduce pain and inflammation including Arnica, Belladonna, Bryonia, Rhus tox, and Ruta. For these, the symptoms must match the remedy. Like cures like. So, please read about the remedy first.  And, also, there are essential oils like Lavender, Peppermint, Copaiba, and Pan Away applied to the body and/or diffused through the room which may promote muscle relaxation, restful sleep, and reduce pain. As CBD becomes legal, there will also be many ointments, creams, and oils on the market that can offer relief.

 

It is important to stay well hydrated, and to eliminate, or at least, reduce the consumption of coffee, alcohol, and tobacco. Remember to eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet, low in sugar, processed foods, hydrogenated fats, and carbonated drinks. All food that increase inflammation, like nightshades, will increase pain.

 

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Gilda By Line11