A founder and organizer of the Dwivayez Hiking Club, Ibrahim Brohim
A founder and organizer of the Dwivayez Hiking Club, Ibrahim Brohim

You know that hiking is great for physical health, but what about mental health?

Maybe you've noticed that many persons tend to be in high spirits after a hike, even if they're visibly tired.

Current research shows that hiking improves mental health by decreasing stress and anxiety.

In fact, a recent Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment study found that walking in nature can lower the risk of depression.

Other modern studies have found that hiking can help decrease anxiety and can also improve memory.

The best part is that Dominica is a hikers' haven with its abundance of trails, including the Waitukubuli National Trail, which provides 115 miles of hiking.

Ibrahim Brohim is an avid hiker and, together with Rawlins Bruney, is a main organiser of the 15-year-old Dwivayez Hiking Club. Brohim is an avid exponent of the physical benefits of hiking along Dominica's rugged trails with their challenging peaks and valleys.

"When you are hiking and you are climbing a mountain, your entire body, all your muscles -- muscles you never thought you had, that you have never worked out -- get a thorough workout depending on the hike.

"Sometimes you climb up a mountain and you have to use your hands to hold on to a tree to help you support and pull yourself up. So your whole body [gets a workout]," he says.

He said hiking strengthens the body as a whole and the lungs specifically.

"The comparison to walking on the road and walking on the mountain are totally different," he points out.

"To want to hike you have to have a love for nature," he added.

Brohim affirms that anyone who hikes in Dominica will be stunned by the island's amazing beauty and scenery. "It's totally astonishing," he remarks.

"We see some funny shaped trees, sometimes because of how the hurricanes twisted them and threw them down and they re-grew in different shapes," he says.

On the hiking trails, the air is cool and fresh and hikers encounter countless streams of crystal clear water and new waterfalls.

"The natural beauty of Dominica is just amazing. Seeing is believing," he says.

Dwivayez Hiking Club was formed by he and others who enjoyed the annual Neg Mawon hikes organised by Bernard Wiltshire.

However, they wanted to hike throughout the year and decided to organize their own hikes.

The club was duly formed and its founder-members and others have since been enjoying hikes of varying degrees of difficulty.

Brohim says the Club has a fixed schedule of hiking on the first Saturday of every month.

He believes the response to the club hikes has been good with up to 40 members participating in a hike. But the more difficult hikes attract fewer members.

"There is a hike for everybody. If you want an easy hike, we can go on easy hikes," he says, explaining that members can put in requests for hikes and specify the intensity level.

He says their hike gets going from about 5am or 6am in the morning; some hikes can last for up to eight hours.

When there are new hikers, the organisers try to find out their physical activity levels.

"You can't just wake up one morning and decide you want to walk up Mount Diablotin. You will find yourself in troubleā€¦ you will probably reach quarter way and have to return," he says.

A hiker prepares for a hike from the night before with a good night's sleep.

"If you are going to have a lime with friends, avoid drinking and staying out too late because you can't expect to go to a hike at 6 'O' clock in the morning and come home at 4 'O' clock in the morning," he says.

Breakfast should be light and the hiker can walk with juice, water or an energy drink.

They can also walk with light snacks such as fresh or dried fruits, energy bars and nuts.

Bread, meat cheese and other heavy foods can affect the hiker's capacity.

For attire, he says comfortable clothes are essential. Sneakers or hiking boots can be worm and jeans are not recommended.

A stick is also useful, especially when going downhill or if the trail is wet or muddy.

Unless you are an experienced hiker and know the trails, he recommends a guide.

He also recommends going out in groups, in case of injury.

If you would like to join the Dwivayez Hiking Club for a hike, contact Ibrahim Brohim at 614-5492 or Rawlins Bruney at 235-2014.