Every season has its own unique beauty and joy – but it’s almost too tempting to snuggle up indoors during the winter and only enjoy the weather from the warm side of the window.
That’s why The Ramblers (formerly The Ramblers’ Association but now trendily abbreviated and with a funky logo) is bringing back its Festival of Winter Walks, in a bid to get us all to lace up our boots and head out, whatever the weather.
The festival runs from Friday 21 December to Sunday 6 January and includes group walks (pop over to the website, link above) for details – or go it alone on one of the 2,750 walking routes listed on the site.
Still need encouragement to get your hat and gloves on and get outside? Here’s a run down of my top five benefits of walking.
1. It’s brilliant for your brain
A King’s College London study suggested fitter legs are linked to a fitter brain, as we get older. The study of twins found that simply walking more can improve brain function in later years.
2. It helps heart disease and osteoporosis
Not seen sunlight for days? Vitamin D levels can plummet during winter so get out and soak up the sunshine vitamin whenever possible. It will not only boost your energy, it maintains a healthy heart and strong bones.
3. You’ll live longer
A Cambridge University study suggested a daily 20 minute walk could reduce the risk of early death. It found twice as many deaths may be due to lack of exercise than obesity.
4. It’s as good as running
In fact, it might be better. US researchers found that running reduced the risk of heart disease by 4.5% while walking reduced it by 9.3%. High blood pressure and high cholesterol risks were also lowered by more than running and diabetes risk was reduced equally by running and walking.
5. It may help lift depression
Exercise improves self-esteem, mood and sleep quality and reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed and staying active helps those who are depressed recover.
And so long as it’s not too damp to make the most of your outside time you can also indulge in a healthy dose of forest bathing!
Wishing you calmness