Di Westaway: 'I was saved by the wild...'

By Di Westaway

I discovered trekking 15 years ago, as a 40 year old mum who needed to get out of the house. I was miserable and grumpy. 

With three little kids, there was no time for me. It was a roller coaster of emotions: the highest of the high to the lowest of the low; and definitely no time to exercise.

But I was saved by The Wild. An acquaintance, who was a personal trainer, invited me to climb Mt Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere. My husband reluctantly agreed to let me go. My friends thought I might die. But I went.

I was a complete novice, putting crampons on for the first time ever when we saw snow. I suffered from altitude sickness and failed to summit, and it wasn't fun in the slightest. 

But it was exhilarating. I felt truly alive. I went WAY out of my comfort zone & was hooked on the feeling.

That adventure transformed my life completely. I came home happy, excited and refreshed, ready to tackle motherhood and find a new challenge to keep me healthy and motivated.

I learned that by having a big hairy audacious goal to train for, I was in fact putting my own oxygen mask on first. And that made me a better mum, a better wife and a better nurturer.

But what I didn’t understand at the time was why this experience made me so happy. And now I know.

Trekking, hiking, walking in nature have been shown to have incredible health benefits, both physical, mental and emotional. And there is a mounting body of research to prove it. Trekking is trending fast.

In the last 10 years, participation in walking has increased by 44% and bushwalking by 6%. Extreme and adventure sports are on the rise, as is active travel. And there’s good reason for it. It makes us happier, healthier and more fun. 

The Oxford Dictionary defines wild as ‘A natural state’. To me ‘going wild’ means restoring tribal lifestyles to create greater health, well-being and happiness.

Going wild is really good for us - for our mental health, physical health, emotional health and longevity.

I first experienced the health benefits of walking in nature 15 years ago. Since then, I’ve seen thousands of women experience these benefits. Wild Women On Top is a tribe that’s full of happy, healthy women who experience these benefits regularly.

Women like 76 year old Margaret Sheridan, who took up adventures in her 40s when her son took her rafting the Franklin. Since then she’s trekked the high passes of Bhutan, she walked across the UK last month and next month she’ll be climbing Mt Fuji with us, as well as having done Sydney Coastrek several times.

Broadcaster & journalist, Julie McCrossin, credits walking with women in nature for getting her through a life threatening illness. Not only did she survive the trauma of aggressive throat cancer, but she’s now thriving as the Patron of Sydney Coastrek.

Yanna, Marna and Ivana, Ann Jenkins, and all our most inspiring wild women have discovered the elixir of life … they all know walking with women in nature makes us healthy and happy.

And health celebrities like Lorna Jane, Sarah Wilson, Lola Berry, Reece Witherspoon and Orlando Bloom all love a hike in the woods.

But a community which values health, fitness, adventures in nature, nutritious delicious food, friends, meditation and helping others can do more than provide you with adventure challenges and training for life’s adventures.

A culture of health can give you purpose. Your purpose can be to reach out and share the health benefits of nature with others; to educate and empower your friends, work colleagues and family; to live by example AND to live to meet your great grand kids.

Research proves that walking in nature has the following health benefits:

·         Reduces negative thoughts

·         reduces anxiety

·         reduces depression

·         improves memory

·         reduces cardiovascular disease

·         helps prevent and control diabetes

·         increases energy levels

·         reduces blood pressure

·         burns calories

·         increases bone density

·         lowers cancer risk

·         elevates your mood

·         alleviates insomnia

·         gives you a daily dose of vitamin D

·         reduces bad cholesterol

·         gets your creative juices flowing

·         is inexpensive

·         improves immunity

·         promotes healing

·         promotes longevity

·         improves concentration

·         reduces sick leave

·         helps us manage stressful life events

·         improves strength, balance, coordination

·         rejuvenates and revitalises

·         decreases tension

·         makes YOU HAPPY!

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