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Hiking: A Lifelong Journey to Stay Fit

BY Dr. Om Manchanda

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Hiking is an activity that has given me tremendous solace. It is something that I have cherished over the years. Besides keeping me physically fit, it rejuvenates my mind.
My exposure to the mountains happened when I joined a mountaineering club during my undergrad college days. When I first hiked Milam Glacier (Kumaon region) in 1982, I discovered a new purpose in life and decided to hike more often.

Though there was a long gap till the second hike, I slowly took my bucket list seriously and began again in 2011 at the base of Panchchuli Glacier (Kumaon). Next came Curzon Trail in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand (2012); Triglav, Slovenia (2013); Dayara Bugyal, Uttarakhand (2014); Rob Roy Way, Scotland (2018); Italian Dolomites, Italy (2019), and the most recent, Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (2022).

The breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains, lush green valleys and serene surroundings made me forget all my worries. It was a reminder that no matter how busy life gets, it is essential to take a break and spend some time amidst nature.

Hiking in the mountains isn’t easy and needs planning and preparation. One must be physically fit and mentally prepared to tackle challenges that come along the way. As a healthcare professional, I understand the importance of staying fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate rest are crucial to staying healthy, both physically and mentally.

During these trips, I realised life is akin to hiking. It has its ups and downs as we face challenges and need to overcome them to reach our goals. Just as in hiking, we should be prepared with a plan to tackle obstacles that come our way. Sometimes, the journey is tough and we may feel like giving up, but it is important to keep pushing ourselves and never lose hope.

I have been fortunate enough to have a great career so far, but my journey has not been without its challenges. There were times when I faced setbacks, yet I’ve always learned from them and moved on. It is imperative to maintain a positive outlook and a never-say-die attitude in life.

Hiking has taught me many valuable life lessons, such as the importance of perseverance, preparation and being in the present moment. It has made me more resilient, and appreciative of nature’s beauty. Hiking has also allowed me to disconnect from the world and connect with myself.

Today, it is an integral part of my personal and professional life. I encourage everyone to take time off from their busy schedules and spend moments with nature. It’s an excellent way to recharge one’s batteries, gain new perspectives, and return refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.

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