The Nature Doctor
Hiking in the Fresh Air
Although hiking is less fashionable these days, I would like to call to mind some facts in defence of this natural sport and its wholesome effect. Many people would not have died at 50 or 60 had they done more walking, because this healthy and relaxing exercise releases healing powers that benefit our body tremendously. Walking’s invigorating movement is a vitalising exercise.
If we wish to take full advantage of holiday time, we must walk early in the morning at a steady pace along footpaths, through woods and fields and, if possible, also uphill and into the mountains. Doing this, we take in plenty of oxygen, being forced to inhale deeply and evenly; this is a promising healing factor, acting in time like an inner massage on the cells, strengthening and revitalising particularly the blood vessels. The entire cell metabolism is stimulated, and the exchange of gases will be improved. The glands, especially the lymphatic system, will derive great benefit from the pure, energy-laden air. The bone marrow, too, will be stimulated to produce more red blood corpuscles as a result of our exposure to increased ultraviolet rays.
Most of all our nerves will find great relief in the undisturbed solitude of Nature. Could they only speak they would shout for joy, because the quiet and peace we can still experience in the hills and mountains are among the best cures for a strained nervous system. Finally to be away from broad highways and roaring traffic is extremely important for our nerves. It is indeed disturbing that pedestrians are gradually losing out.
Footpaths on which years ago you could walk without fear of noise and exhaust fumes are now asphalt roads with motor traffic. There are relatively few footpaths left on which you are safe from cars, motorcycles, noise and exhaust fumes. All these changes have been to the detriment of our health.
We should not give in, however, but persist in finding footpaths on which we can still feel quiet exhilaration and enjoy the aromatic scents of glorious Nature in full measure.
Extract from the writings of Alfred Vogel, published in 1983.