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Lake District ViewWalking for Health

Walking for recreation in the UK countryside is a wonderful activity. It is healthy and invigorating, mentally relaxing and connects you with the natural living environment. Walks can provide adventure and discovery and satisfy an interest in history, geology, architecture, flora and fauna amongst many other subjects. Walking either alone or as a family or social group is one of the most enjoyable ways of spending leisure time with an immense variety of landscapes to experience from tranquil woodland to wide hilltop vistas. You are bound to feel better after a good walk, and numerous studies have shown that regular walking will undoubtedly improve your health and wellbeing.

UK Parents Falling Short when it comes to Organising Active Family Adventures

New research has revealed that nearly 50% of UK parents admit they don’t manage to take their kids on an ‘active adventure’ more than once every other month.

In a nationwide survey, outdoor clothing & equipment brand Berghaus asked over a thousand mums and dads how often the family get together to do exercise-based activities like a bike ride, ice skating or a country walk. Shockingly, 29% of respondents said that they undertook these kinds of activities ‘every six months or less’, with 20% only managing it between ‘once every other month’ or ‘once every three months’. This is despite the fact that the NHS recommends that children aged between 5 and 18-years old should be doing at least one hour of physical activity every single day*.

Chris Fletcher for Berghaus, said: “It’s an unfortunate fact that, given the choice, most kids would rather spend their spare time indoors playing video games or glued to the TV or their phones than out in the fresh air – and the fact that the British weather can be pretty unpredictable certainly doesn’t help in this regard, either...
“But by not arranging activities that allow their children to try something new or explore the outdoors while also getting a little exercise, parents are risking setting the precedence for bad exercise habits that could well continue throughout the rest of their kids’ lives.”

But the results of the survey weren’t entirely bleak – 19% of the parents who responded to the survey said that they actually get out and about with their family ‘once a week or more’. Chris continued: “It’s great to hear that some families are making the effort to ensure that they’re doing something active with their kids on a regular basis. But we think that parents doing some sort of adventure-based exercise with their children at least once a week should be the norm, not the exception. It’s a great opportunity to make sure everyone’s keeping fit and to build lots of wonderful memories together too.”

So get into better habits with your family adventures, and ditch the meals out and evenings on the sofa in favour of a spot of hiking, bird watching, beachcombing or a day of playing games in the park.  And if you get everyone kitted out properly, the possibility that you might encounter a downpour or strong winds won’t have to slow you down, either!”

Our Thoughts

We share the concerns of many organisations and health care professionals who worry that too many children are unfit and overweight and are not being given the opportunities to experience and learn to love the outdoors and our beautiful countryside. It is primarily the responsibility of parents to provide the exposure of their children to outdoor activities and to teach and encourage an understanding and love of nature, and landscape as well as developing a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, due to parent’s busy lives and kid’s fascination with computers, phones and television the indoor stay-at-home routine often prevails.

There are many motivational projects such as the National Trust’s ’50 things to do before you are eleven and three quarters’ which are excellent motivators, but in many cases these projects are preaching to the converted. National Trust family members are the ones most likely to be already outdoors enthusiasts. The real challenge is getting the message across to the urban parents who have never developed their own attachment to the countryside and do not therefore have the confidence or knowledge to take their offspring into the ‘wild’. This is why we applaud initiatives like this one from Berghaus.

* Follow the link below for the NHS advice on physical activity for children

Walking for Health

Healthy WalkingA recent online ‘YouGov’ survey showed that 25% of adults in the UK walk for no more than an hour a week. This includes all essential walking (e.g. to work, shops, school), so for these people non-essential recreational walking is minimal. This is a worry, because the medical profession recommends that adults should undertake at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity every week and brisk walking for this amount of time would fulfil this requirement. It is highly likely that many of these people are not carrying out alternative forms of exercise and so are putting their health at risk.

Any recreational walker will tell you that walking is relaxing, enjoyable and makes you feel better. The problem for many non-walkers is knowing where to begin, and this is where ‘Walking for Health’ schemes are so beneficial. By walking with a group of people comprising others who are new to walking and leaders who can pass on their experience and love of walking the newcomers gain the knowledge and confidence to continue regular walking for exercise and pleasure either by themselves or with a group such as the Ramblers’ Association.

By walking as part of a small group you will make new friends, encourage each other, and discover new walks in and around your neighbourhood. There are 600 local health walk schemes that run regular short walks every week. Anyone can turn up and join in – it’s free, fun and friendly.

Physical inactivity is now acknowledged as a major threat to public health, but we believe walking holds the key to getting more people active. It’s a fun, social form of exercise that keeps you feeling healthy, happy and more relaxed. And it helps to reduce the risk of a number of diseases and medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and many types of cancer, depression and even Alzheimer’s.


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