I woke up feeling extremely tired, stressed, and lacking sleep as I was up late the night before working to finish my assignments. I had been waiting for this day ever since I got accepted into this program to study abroad; however, I was lacking motivation to get out of bed. This wasn’t anything new that I was experiencing as I usually stress out over every little thing from cooking a meal to working on an assignment. This was my second-time hiking, which involved trekking through the Montserrat Mountain to get to the Monastery located atop. Prior to the hike, I felt extremely anxious to start hiking, so that I can prove to my brother who always doubted my ability to hike up a mountain. He always travels across the country to experience different national parks, numerous hikes, fourteeners and what not. I wanted to prove to him that I am capable of climbing a 4,055 feet tall mountain even though that may not seem a lot to an experienced hiker.

Walking through Monistrol de Montserrat on Carrer Julia Fuchs to begin the hike.

View of Monistrol de Montserrat from Cami dels Canals.

Climbing Montserrat in the blistering heat was no easy task, especially since I am an inexperienced hiker. I could feel my t-shirt glued to my skin as my heavy backpack weighed down on my shoulders. Stomping my way over the little rocks and zig zagging to avoid big rocks, I felt a sense of exhilaration to complete the challenge. I was ready to tackle this hike and push through, so that I can finally see the Monastery at the top, get some Gelato, and prove my brother wrong. I thought this hike would be all about my physical ability to accomplish the desired task; however, I learned that there are many other components involved such as: emotional well-being and social influences on exercise.

Stomping over numerous rocks to hike up to the Monastery.

My third stop for rest after hiking for an hour and a half.

My stress that I woke up with was making me feel anxious and not wanting to hike Montserrat. Being a Kinesiology Major I know that exercising can greatly reduce stress levels and enhance cognitive function. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall level of tension, elevate and stabilize mood (ADAA 2016). This was evident as I was hiking Montserrat with just one thing on my mind, which was to get to the top. When I finally reached the monastery at the top and went inside the church to see the choir, I felt a sense of calmness and relieved of all the tension I was experiencing earlier in the day. Even though I believe in Islam and go to the mosque to worship, I felt extremely peaceful while I was in the church.

This chart shows the results of stress in adults and teens after exercising.

This experience was a very different experience for me as it was a combination of physical activity with emotional well-being and spirituality. I can hopefully use this experience in my career of helping patients feel better physically and also acknowledging their emotional well-being. I learned that everyone has different capabilities and it’s important to know about those capabilities as you want your patients to keep exercising not stop exercising. In order for individuals to follow their exercise prescription, we as future ambassadors of health and wellness have to be aware that each prescription is suited for just that specific individual.

Watching the boys choir inside the church, after reaching the top of Montserrat.

The view of the Monastery on Montserrat from Cami de Sant Miquel.