Every time more and more people decide to walk the Camino. As we have already discussed in some other posts from our blog, there are several reasons why people decide to start it. But, anyway, there is a curious thing that seems to be common to all those people who finish the Camino: they experiment a change in their lives after it.
Many people have found that it’s actually a great way of disconnecting from a tiring routine and may become an encounter with oneself. According to the World Health Organization (1947), the Health is a complete state of physical, mental and social wellness, and not only the lack of illnesses. So, can we say that the Camino de Santiago is beneficial to health?
The Camino de Santiago: a healthy therapy
I recently had the chance to read a group of psychologist researchers who have been discussing about the therapeutic benefits of the Camino de Santiago.
This group, who still carry on with their research, launched a Web in order to get data from those pilgrims who finished the Camino. Apparently, their findings seem to indicate that the Camino actually changes the way people perceive, feel or find themselves.
Moreover, they try to evaluate the condition of the pilgrims through a survey, both before, immediately and up to three months after finishing the Camino. This is, without a doubt, a great way to know if the Camino is a healthy option.
According to the research we cited before, most pilgrims who finished the Camino have felt improvements in their mood. Specifically, they have reduced their stress, depression and anxiety levels. Moreover, they have experienced an improvement on the ability to live a full rewarding life, focusing more on the principles and achieving a higher level of happiness and mindfulness.
Furthermore, they analyzed the relation between walking the Camino alone or with a partner, as well as the religious motivations if existing. They finally found out there were no major differences, as all the pilgrims perceived the same therapeutic benefits.
Preliminary data shows us a relation between those pilgrims who have previous experience on hiking and several abilities, like the positive fondness. Moreover, they found a better response on the ability to accept oneself, as well as the others, and their peculiarities.
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Could the Camino provide more benefits to our health?
We all know that contact with nature, forests, flowers, and clean air provide us with a feeling of serenity. Getting away from the noise, the hectic traffic and the pollution is the best way to reward ourselves.
Moreover, if we live in the moment, focusing our attention on every step, observing the landscape, and breathing the reviving fresh air along the Camino, we may finally get the change we want.
During several days, or weeks, we will also learn how to manage the pain . We keep walking, even with discomfort on our feet and legs, because we want to follow the Camino. We learn to become more tolerant with our own feelings and what’s going on in our mind and body. That’s because we can’t really change it, unless we adapt like water through a stream overcoming the obstacles.
Anyway, walking implies movement, and movement heals, according to Pilates Founder. Sustained walking releases certain chemicals called endorphins, while it reduces the Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. In short, the Camino of Santiago is a great source of physical and mental health. Simply, because of the therapeutic scents we’ll find in nature, the experiences, the landscapes, or the movement itself.
How can I collaborate in the research?
Although preliminary data is not conclusive yet, the research follows on development. We encourage those pilgrims planning to walk the Camino soon, to take part in it.
It would be interesting to get more people involved in this study. In that way, we could gain more information about the therapeutic effects and benefits of the Camino in our lives and own wellness.
The link to collaborate is available in both English as Spanish. So, please, ¡join in!
Recommendations before starting the Camino: Medical examination
Despite of the fact that walking is good for our health, before starting the adventure we always recommend to visit the doctor. They can check our health and give us the right suggestions in order to walk and finish the Camino without any risks.
Some pilgrims walk the Camino without a previous medical examination. Sometimes the trails are very physical demanding, so the key to follow the Camino is to be ready for that. Even if you don’t suffer from any illness, we always suggest to practice the common sense. We must listen to the signals from our bodies, and get checked by a doctor before starting the Camino.
The unbearable heat, the uncomfortable rain, the long distance journeys, or even to be set on reaching our next stage, could have consequences over our health. The Camino is not a short walk; it is a route where we must take care of ourselves. If you feel bad, or you experience something unusual, it is better to stop and rest for a moment.
Furthermore, in Galiwonders we have several options to walk the Camino. You can ask our team to split the stages, to elaborate a slower route, or even to ride the Camino on horseback. If you are also interested on including some wellness experience, as a massage or SPA, we can organize everything you need to enjoy an amazing experience!
Don’t hesitate to contact us to request for more information, and get your custom-made itinerary.