It&'s great outdoors, says new study
Holidays are great for your health, but a holiday that is spent in the great outdoors is even better. That’s always been our opinion and now a new study has backed this up.
The report by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) shows that people who regularly visit green spaces are more likely to feel healthy. And the people who do visit green places rate their health as good.
In addition, people who say that their health is good are more likely to meet the national guidelines for physical activity in an outdoor environment. So there are good results all round!
But there is a less positive side to this research: Less than 50% of the people asked actually spend time in green outdoors places once a week or more. Sadly, a third of people do not do any outdoors physical activity at all.
However, the Attitudes to Greenspaces research, which was conducted in Scotland, shows that most people are aware of the benefits that outdoors spaces can bring to their physical and mental well-being.
Go outdoors for good health
Greenspaces are easy to find and include parks, playing fields, allotments, woodlands and riversides. In the wider countryside there are lakes, lochs, hills, mountains and national parks to explore.
Some of the benefits of spending time outdoors include improved fitness, weight loss better mental health, confidence, self-esteem and quality family time and communication.
And you can enjoy these outdoors environments in many different ways. Here we suggest a six top outdoors activities.
Six great ways to enjoy the outdoors
Walks on the wild side:
It doesn’t need to be a mountain hike because wild walks can be found in parks, along riverbanks and in local woodlands. Simply go with an open mind and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.
If you are keen to add more interest to a walk, for example to encourage the kids to come along with you, set a route on a map before you go and use a map and compass to navigate. You could head to a country pub or ice-cream shop, find a picnic spot in a forest or walk a river to its source.
Hunt out a geocache:
Geocaching is like treasure hunting except you use GPS coordinates to find your cache. The main website for this fun activity is geocaching.com
Geocache walks can be short, long, tricky or easy so they are suitable for all ages and fitness levels. There are thousands of caches hidden across the world.
Try a tandem:
Cycling as a pair is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. Many bike hire places have a tandem or two so you can see if you enjoy the activity before buying your own.
Try road or mountain bike tandems for variety and swap from the back to the front to find out what it’s like in both positions.
For parents and kids an alternative is a tag-along for the child on the back of an adult bike.
Forage for wild foods:
Foraging is a growing trend and promotes the concept of seasonal and local cooking and dining. It’s a good idea to join a foraging course or walk to make sure you know what is safe to eat in the great outdoors.
Once you know what to avoid you’ll discover an amazingly wide ranging natural larder and some incredible taste sensations. Right now, wild mushrooms are the food to be picking.
Another increasingly popular outdoors activity is open water swimming. Whether it’s the sea, lakes and lochs or an open-air pool you’ll discover that outdoors swimming is a great deal more spirits lifting than swimming lengths at a chlorinated indoor pool.
Take care when swimming outdoors and always swim with someone else. In Scotland, the Outdoors access Code allows for a great deal of freedom to swim in the wild.
In England and Wales and increasingly in Scotland, too, there are water-based centres that offer coached lessons and sessions.
Join a course and learn how to paddle. There are so many different options for travelling on water including solo kayaks, Canadian canoes for two, white water play kayaks, surf skis and Stand Up Paddle Boards.
Once you’ve learned the basics you’re free to set off on your own paddling trip in a hire craft or your own boat/board.
What are your favourite ways to enjoy the great outdoors?