January is a great time to go outdoors and get active – and there are plenty of fun ways you can work off those festive calories! Rather than curling up in the house with a bad case of the January blues, wrap up warm and find out what the great outdoors has to offer.
Experts at the British Heart Foundation are urging everyone to be active for at least 30 minutes a day, on five days of the week. If this is too much to fit into your schedule, even 10 minutes’ exercise a day counts and can make a difference to your health.
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Being active in the great outdoors provides many benefits, both physical and emotional. In physical terms, you will burn more calories even from a simple walk outdoors, as the varied terrain and the weather will put different demands on your body. Although working out indoors is useful, there’s nothing like a bracing walk on a sunny and crisp January day.
Outdoor activities help you to get back in shape and improve the health of your heart. Getting out and about can improve your mood, as it boosts energy levels and this, in turn, helps us to sleep more soundly. Outdoor exercise can also boost your body’s vitamin D levels, helping to prevent thinning of the bones or osteoporosis.
Apart from the obvious health benefits, walking outdoors can simply be good fun! It enables you to get to know the local area better and enjoy seeing different scenery. It can also be a chance to socialise at a time when we may be feeling a little low.
January is traditionally an anti-climax after the fun of the festive period ends, so call your friends and organise some social walks, or join a local walking or hiking group.
The BHF suggests going for a walk in your local park or woods, or along a canal or other waterway. If this isn’t possible where you live, even a walk along the urban streets can be healthy. You can finish off with a coffee and a healthy snack in a cafe, especially if you’re walking with a friend. You will feel like you’ve really earned it!
Include walking in your everyday activities. For example, if you’ve just eaten a meal, go for a walk afterwards. Even a short walk is better than none! Take your children or grandchildren on a treasure hunt and if it’s sunny, finish off with a picnic afterwards. Play games in the park, such as football, rounders or frisbee.
Check with your local tourism office where there are some official walks – or hills that are suitable for climbing. Set aside some time to take in as many as you can. This can be a great time of year to do this, as you won’t find the routes are overcrowded with tourists. Walk your dog more – you’ll be amazed at how many calories a walk will burn off and it will keep your canine companion happy too!
Cycling for health
Invest in a bike and go for fun cycling rides with friends or family. If you’re feeling energetic, try cycling to work. At this time of year, you will arrive feeling refreshed and invigorated, rather than hot and uncomfortable, which can happen in the summer.
Find out if there’s a Green Gym in your area. This is an outdoor gym, where you can work out on equipment such as exercise bikes, weight apparatus and cross-trainers.
According to the BHF, moderately intensive physical activities such as cycling, walking and even gardening can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and strokes. This will release “feel-good” hormones that can help lessen stress, at the same time as burning calories.
Cycling, in particular, can help with weight loss, while strengthening and toning your leg muscles and improving your balance and coordination. Gardening enhances your mood, as it’s a very relaxing activity. When you have made your outdoor areas look lovely, you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something and this will build more self-esteem.
It can be advisable to check with your GP before you start any new form of outdoor exercise, particularly if you have any health concerns.
St Austell winter walk
Check whether there are any organised events in your area. The Cornwall Wildlife Trust is organising its Winter Nature Walk in St Austell, from Carlyon Bay to Spit Beach, on Saturday 18th January, from 10am to noon.
The morning walk from Carlyon Bay car park area to Spit Beach and back – organised by the trust’s Restormel Branch – will enable walkers to look at the wildlife and geology along the beautiful cliff area. The walk will be led by wildlife expert, Catriona Burt.
We all know how unpredictable the British weather can be, but don’t let this deter you. As long as you’re well-prepared, you should still be able to continue with your outdoor activities. Be ready for anything with weatherproof outdoor clothing and comfortable footwear – you will keep warm and dry, whatever the weather. MA Grigg’s offers a quality range of outdoor wear at our country store here in St Austell. We stock a selection of top brands for adults and children.
Please contact us for further details, or pop in to meet our friendly team in person. You’ll be assured of a warm winter welcome – you can even enjoy a hot cuppa and a bite to eat in our restaurant!