Ben­e­fits of the great out­doors

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY -

YOU do not have to be a hedge­hog to feel tempted to hi­ber­nate when the tem­per­a­ture falls.

Our en­ergy lev­els can drop and it is easy to stay cosied up at home, but lay­er­ing on the clothes and head­ing out­side can make a real dif­fer­ence to our health dur­ing the win­ter.

There is grow­ing aware­ness and ac­cep­tance that ‘green’ ex­er­cise plays an im­por­tant role in our well­be­ing.

That is get­ting out­side into the fresh air and a green space, whether it’s a park in the mid­dle of town, a na­ture re­serve or our lo­cal Chiltern hills.

Dr Philippa More­ton, a GP in Wen­dover for 34 years, says new stud­ies sug­gest ‘blue space may pro­vide an even greater sense of well­be­ing than green spa­ces’.

This is an en­vi­ron­ment that in­cludes wa­ter, whether rivers, canals, reser­voirs or the sea.

As we all know, exer- cise im­proves our health by re­duc­ing the risk of obe­sity, im­prov­ing our heart health and pre­vent­ing diabetes among many other things, so any en­vi­ron­ment that en­cour­ages ex­er­cise is very im­por­tant.

There is now good ev­i­dence that peo­ple who ex­er­cise out­side get a greater sense of well­be­ing and are more likely to ex­er­cise reg­u­larly than those who ex­er­cise in­side, at the gym for ex­am­ple.

This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for peo­ple suf­fer­ing from men­tal heath prob­lems.

Dr More­ton said: “I have seen and treated many peo­ple with anx­i­ety or de­pres­sion over the years and my im­pres­sion is that pa­tients who take reg­u­lar ex­er­cise im­prove more quickly.

“If that ex­er­cise is in a beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, the ef­fect is even more marked.”

Even for healthy peo- ple, af­ter a week spent in the of­fice it is good to head out­side and recharge the bat­ter­ies in a green space. Get­ting enough nat­u­ral light is a key part of stay­ing fit and healthy dur­ing the win­ter.

There are many ben­e­fits to lay­er­ing up, head­ing out for fresh air and ex­er­cise and tak­ing time to en­joy the scenery and wildlife.

Mind­ful­ness is a real buzz­word at the mo­ment but the con­cept ap­plies here too – pay­ing at­ten­tion to your sur­round­ings when out and about and notic­ing the colours and sounds of na­ture can dis­tract you from daily stresses and re-en­er­gise you to deal with them on your re­turn home.

We are very lucky to be sur­rounded by beau­ti­ful coun­try­side and wa­ter­ways here in south Bucks and it’s clear that pro­tect­ing these ‘green’ and ‘blue’ spa­ces has ben­e­fits for peo­ple and wildlife.

Give your­self a ‘men­tal mas­sage’ this win­ter by spend­ing some time out­side sur­rounded by na­ture each week. You can al­ways cosy up with a well-earned hot choco­late af­ter­wards!

Breath of fresh air: There are many ben­e­fits to lay­er­ing up and head­ing out­side with the fam­ily. Below, Dr Philippa More­ton en­joys a walk with Rosie

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