We believe regular walking is key to helping you lead a happy and healthy life.
With the recent outbreak of Covid-19, many of us have seen our regular routines and activities turned upside-down. But it is as important as ever that we do what we can to look after our physical and mental wellbeing. Walking is one way we can do this.
For our most up to date advice on Coronavirus in line with the NHS and Government recommendations click here.
Currently, you can walk outside for exercise more than once per day, as long as you are alone or with members of your household, or with members from up to two other households, and keep at a distance of at least 2m from other people. If choosing to walk with members from another household, you must stay 2m apart. We’ve put together some tips on how you can make the most of a short, local walks.
Fresh air and being outdoors is not only positive for your physical health, but it can help to reduce any stress, anxiety or other mental health conditions. We believe it is important for people to continue to enjoy short, local walks where it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Choose routes right from your own front door if you can, or just a short journey. You should try to visit places you know will be quiet, away from hotspots. Keep a distance of at least two metres from other people.
Spending time outdoors in fresh air, like in local greenspace, local paths or local streets, can work wonders to improve your mood and manage your emotions, reduce feelings of stress or anxiety, and make you feel more relaxed.
Did you know that being around trees can boost your immune system? Something that could come in handy right now! Trees emit organic compounds called phytoncides which can help improve our immune system when we breathe them in.
Connecting with nature
A recent survey from the National Trust found that people who take part in ‘noticing nature’ activities, such as smelling wildflowers or watching wildlife, are happier and have a greater feeling that life is worthwhile.
Whether we are outdoors or indoors, we can find ways to continue to benefit from the calming effects of nature.
If you are self-isolating, make a brew and spend some time by the window, if it feels right open it, and take notice of what’s happening. What can you hear, see, feel and smell?
If you have access to a garden, you could sit outside for some fresh air, do some light gardening or feed the birds. It is fine to talk with neighbours over the fence but keep a minimum two meters apart.
Try some of these activities whilst on your walk to help you boost your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
What can you see?
- During your walk, take note of any wild animals or interesting plant species you can see. This could be birds flying overhead, insects crawling on the pavement or spring wildflowers beginning to grow.
What can you hear?
- Walk quietly and notice the natural sounds, listen for things like the wind, leaves rustling, bird songs, water moving or animal sounds, anything that’s natural.
What can you smell?
- Notice if you catch any natural smells during your walk. Maybe spring flowers, maybe sea water if you live by the coast or maybe that classic ‘fresh air’ odour if you’re walking on a breezy day
What can you feel?
- Living in Scotland, we can often feel all seasons in one. During your walk, notice the elements, can you feel the wind blowing you, the sun on your skin, or even the rain dripping off your jacket or brolly!
Try out some of these free resources to help you, your family or friends connect with nature:
- Take part in a nature photo scavenger hunt by the Woodland Trust (not just for kids!)
- Even seeing pictures of parks can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure, and Greenspace Scotland are sharing ‘a daily dose of greenspace’ on social media. Find out more here
- Watch out for wildlife with the bird identifying guide
- Read this Blog on how we can take notice of nature.
- A list of useful apps can be found on the Highland Green Health Partnership’s website
- Notice nature week by week from The National Trust
- Finding a friend in nature blog by Professor Miles Richardson
- Make space for nature by Scottish Natural Heritage
Make a short walk an important part of your daily routine. Whether you’re used to walking regularly, or haven’t walked in a while, a local walk for exercise is an important way we can all maintain good health and wellbeing.
Encourage others in your household, or friends and family you’re keeping in touch with to do the same. You might want to plan your walk for a time in the day when it is likely to be quieter. If you do meet other walkers, be sure to stay at least two metres apart. Plan your walking routes straight from your front door.
You might surprise yourself and find some local routes you haven’t visited before. If opening gates, handrails or sitting on public benches be mindful not to touch your face until after your hands have been washed or used hand sanitiser.
If you’ve recently moved to working from home, or have children at home, plan a daily walk as a break away from technology, work calls or school work.
Our partners Living Streets have put together a Q&A covering the key questions on the current social distancing requirements and walking.
In this together
Now is a time for personal and collective resilience and staying active, hopefully outdoors, but also indoors, is key to us staying healthy and well.