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Top Of The World

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Combining physical exercise with elevated views of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes, mountaineering can offer more than just an escape from the humdrum of city life.

National Mountain Climbing day was established on 1 August 2015 to honour Bobby Matthews and Josh Madigan. These two friends created history by successfully reaching all 46 High Peaks of the Adirondacks in the USA, including the final one known as Whiteface Mountain. Besides acknowledging the achievement of Matthews and Madigan, the day seeks to promote the benefits of mountaineering.

The highest point in Singapore — Bukit Timah Hill — is only 163m tall. That, however, has not deterred Singaporeans from scaling the highest peaks around the world. For example, Khoo Swee Chiow has summited Mount Everest thrice and climbed the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents. He was a member of the first Singapore team to go up Mount Everest in 1998.

Conquering a summit is no walk in the park, but proponents say the mental and physical rewards outweigh the challenges.

PROMOTES PHYSICAL BENEFITS

Mountaineering is a strenuous endeavour that requires a certain level of fitness. People who embark on this thrilling expedition benefit from improved physical health as the activity uses different muscle groups, both in the upper and lower body. Regular climbing can build muscle strength as well as stamina and endurance. In addition, reaching and stretching for holds improves flexibility and agility. Walking from crag to crag also provides good aerobic exercise.

Most guides recommend three months of preparation before attempting a climb. These may include twice-weekly runs, going to the gym a few times a week, practising yoga, and so forth. After making it up a mountain or completing your trek, you are likely to find it easier to maintain your fitness routine thereafter.

Getting out into the wilderness and breathing fresh air can also be beneficial for your health; according to the World Health Organisation, air pollution in cities has been linked to lung cancer, infection of the respiratory system, stroke, and heart disease.

BOOSTS MENTAL HEALTHExercising outdoors has been shown to enhance mental health. Along with better sleep, positive moods, and the ability to manage stress and anxiety, it also helps evoke feelings of happiness.

Working out in nature boosts endorphins, which stimulate receptors associated with pleasure in the brain, thus making you feel good and eliminating energy that may contribute to anxiety. Focusing on constructive activities, such as making it up a cliff face or crossing a glacier to reach a summit, will undoubtedly improve self-esteem and self-worth as well.

TEACHES PATIENCE & PERSISTENCEAscending a mountain is fraught with challenges. Learning to overcome the obstacles that one encounters along the way can instils patience and cultivate perseverance. It also entails concentration and problem solving, thus helping to sharpen the brain.

Regular participants find mountain climbing addictive, and attest that every peak they have attempted to conquer has taught them important lessons that go beyond the physical and mental advantages. If your curiosity is piqued, it may be time to start planning an expedition.