Exhilarating Walks with the National Trust
"Nature is the secret ingredient"
There are those who say walking is a boring form of exercise.
Here at the National Trust, we say these people are misguided, poor things, and this is why…
Those people have clearly never battled up a Chilterns hill in a buffeting wind – the type that inflates your jacket and pummels you onwards – or walked across a Thames towpath in a strong steady gale that tempts you to lean into it, arms outstretched, just to see how far it will hold your weight.
Those people must never have tested their willpower to save a magnificent view for a summit, telling their friends: “Don’t look back, don’t look back!” It’s always worth it for the big reveal when you turn round at the top. From White Horse Hill, the patchworked green and gold landscape falling away and flowing over seven counties to the horizon will refresh the body and soul far more than an hour cycling to nowhere in a sweaty gym.
We’ve all known this for years, but it seems that science is catching up with us. There’s growing evidence that being active, outdoors and in nature, has benefits beyond the physical. Research from the University of Essex shows that ‘green exercise’ has the ability to boost mood and self-esteem, as well as reducing anger, confusion, depression and tension. Exercising outdoors with others is also known to improve social networking and connectedness. Who hasn’t experienced the easy pleasure of a conversation whilst on a walk?
Nature is the secret ingredient, though. Researchers at the University of Innsbruck asked volunteers to chat to each other whilst on a hike in the mountains, whilst walking exactly the same incline and distance on a treadmill and while sitting in a communal room at the university. The treadmill was better than sitting still, but volunteers’ mood indexed significantly higher on their ‘happy and relaxed’ scores after the outdoor hike.
But we don’t need science to tell us this. Our own experience of crisp walks in beautiful places is all the evidence we need.
Main Image © National Trust Images/Robert Morris
Below © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey
Bottom © National Trust Images/John Miller
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