Benefits of the great outdoors
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