Get peak fitness through hiking and rock climbing

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Get peak fitness through hiking and rock climbing

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He was 14 when he decided to become a mountain climber after his uncle, a professional mountaineer, died in a fall while climbing Mount Halla on Jeju Island. The boy has since grown up and has climbed mountains for half a century. Jeon Dam, 74, even tried to conquer Mount Annapurna in the Himalayas and Mont Blanc in the Alps, but was unsuccessful. Now he is just a mountain enthusiast who hikes up Mount Bukhan twice a week to stay in shape.
“It usually takes two hours to get to Baegundae, the top of Mount Bukhan, and about three hours to hike down along the ridge,” he said. “Mountain hiking is a comprehensive exercise that has both static and dynamic characteristics,” he said.
In order to enjoy the static part more, he listens to classical music on his MP3 player when resting. And in spots where there are not too many people around, he takes his earphones out and instead listens to the sounds of nature ― the flowing water of a stream or the chirruping of bugs.
Mr. Jeon said that it’s perfectly fine for somebody older than 65 to start mountain hiking. “When you hike up a mountain it is not that you use so much power, its more a question of technique, particularly when you’re older,” Mr. Jeon said. “You must open your mouth wide and breathe in and out rhythmically when hiking,” he explained.
“When going up, make sure that your walking pace is a bit slower than usual and when coming down, you should be careful not to slip; you must use mountain hiking sticks,” he emphasized.
Another thing to note is your body condition. “If you feel you are straining too much or your condition starts to feel bad, you should stop hiking,” he said.
“If you keep on when you feel either of these conditions, wanting to overcome the extreme situation, you could be gambling with your life,” he added.
What makes Mr. Jeon different from other hikers is that he also does rock climbing ― he is the oldest rock climber in Korea. His family and friends have been trying to get him to stop, but he says he just can’t give it up. He enjoys rock climbing, he says, because it requires a lot of concentration and it helps him to focus his mental faculties.
Thanks to his outdoor pursuits, Mr. Jeon doesn’t suffer from any illnesses or diseases. His blood pressure is a bit high, but blood sugar and cholesterol levels are considered normal. His joints, which are often called the Achilles heel of mountain hikers and rock climbers, are also fine.
“An orthopedic surgeon once x-rayed my knee joints. He was surprised that my bones and cartilage were similar to those of a man in his 30s or 40s,” Mr. Jeon said proudly. He has weighed 60 kilograms (132 pounds) for the last 25 years and is a sturdy 160 centimeters (5 feet, 3 inches) tall.
“I hope to continue mountain hiking and maybe climbing until I turn 100,” said Mr. Jeon.


by Park Tae-kyun
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