Mark A Mahoney
My column today focuses on a personal trip to California to undertake a yearly backpacking trip with a friend in California to the high Sierra Nevada Mountains, something which had been a yearly endeavor for many years now.
However, this July’s experience was particularly important as we had missed 2020 due to the pandemic.
As I have noted in prior columns, there are direct positive effects from movement, both to our physical as well as our mental well-being.
Nature and the outdoors can truly provide a needed respite from one’s daily routine. And, as we know, over the past year many of us have spent more time indoors with less human contact outside of our immediate families.
Planning for a backpacking excursion is always a bit of a challenge as one carries everything in and takes everything out. However, the thought of getting away into the solitude of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Ansel Adams Wilderness provided all the motivation needed.
This was particularly relevant post-pandemic to allow for reflection on what had occurred over the past year and one-half.
As a public health professional who tries to educate the public on health promotion/disease prevention topics through scientific evidence and best practices approaches, the fact that we had lost over 600,000 people to COVID was particularly disturbing.
The backpack experience was truly one of the most physically arduous but the fact we were able to camp at 9,000 feet in front of a 10,500 foot peak and not encounter another soul for almost 4 days provided a serenity that is not often encountered in today’s world.
Getting away allowed for time to reflect and consider the importance of living life to its fullest. I have included some pictures of what we visually experienced during our backpacking adventure to give readers an idea.
Not everyone has the physical ability or stamina to undertake such a journey, but we can get out and undertake physical activity in our environment which can provide support for improving our physical and mental health.
The Tallahassee and Big Bend area is blessed with parks, greenways and other natural areas where we can take the opportunity to appreciate the beautiful environment that surrounds us.
Take the time to improve your physical and mental health by whatever means possible. There are numerous activities one can undertake from simply walking and biking to practicing mindfulness to yoga — all depending on one’s abilities and preferences.
This is particularly important as we look to transition out of the pandemic (taking into account the ever-increasing concerns of the Delta variant of COVID-19) back into a more near-normal life.
Remember to practice safe COVID-19 precautions. Follow science-based information sources and avoid misinformation.
Please seriously consider getting vaccinated as the great majority of those seriously affected (including those who die) are individuals who haven’t been vaccinated. Florida is one of three states accounting for over 40% of new COVID infections, according to the latest reports.
Access the recent advisory report on health misinformation by the US Surgeon General, Confronting Health Misinformation: The US Surgeon General’s Advisory on Building a Healthy Information Environment at hhs.gov.
A couple of past columns providing information on mindfulness and physical activity are also accessible at the following links:
Activities:Research supports importance of staying active for cognitive health | Mahoney
Stress:Try mindful approach to address stress during the pandemic | Mahoney
Mark A. Mahoney, Ph.D. has been a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for over 35 years and completed graduate studies in Nutrition & Public Health at Columbia University. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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