Fresh air and a beach - you don’t need anything else

PUBLISHED: 11:14 27 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:14 27 December 2017

Enjoying a stroll along Winterton beach. Picture: Archant library

Enjoying a stroll along Winterton beach. Picture: Archant library

(C) Archant Norfolk 2013

Why flock to the sales when there’s a wonderful Norfolk beach to flock to instead, says Rachel Moore.

One of the best festive sights was Boxing Day morning on the beach at Winterton.

Bright sharp sunshine at 11am and the beach was full of families wrapped up snug against the winter snap walking dogs in Santa coats, yomping across the sand and dunes and seal-spotting.

Beach Road was like Oxford Street. Walkers on both sides and cars bumper to bumper flocking to enjoy something that is free, beautiful and open to everyone all year round - the great outdoors and natural landscape on our doorstep.

The village pub was heaving too. Strangers greeted each other cheerfully with festive wishes as their dogs rubbed noses and ran for balls on the sand and dunes, children ran along the surf together spotting the big black heads of seals popping up between waves and couples walked hand in hand.

It was a natural festive Prozac; a few hours of sunshine, sea breeze, free and accessible to everyone.

It was a scene played out from Hunstanton down to Aldeburgh.

Television news channels didn’t send cameras to the seaside though. They were stationed in the over-heated shopping malls, reporters interviewing mothers with irritable small children upset at being barged by lunatics buying stuff they didn’t need because it had a giant 70% off tag on it.

Poor children deprived of tearing around woodland, parks and beaches on a beautiful bright winter’s day because their parents worshipped at the altar of shopping, which could have waited until Wednesday when it was tipping down and miserable outside.

How we under-rate and under-use our stunning landscape for the rest of the year.

I’m as guilty as the next person, sedentary and complacent about the opportunities to get out and about all around us.

Gyms rub their hands in glee at the new direct debits about to be set up for 2018 gym membership, that few people continue beyond February, and we’re warned of greater squeezes ahead on living standards as prices grow faster than pay for much of next year, a New Year resolution to seek our exercise where it’s free in the fresh air would be far more realistic.

More families face financial pressure next year, inflation is growing and there is zero real wage growth. Getting outdoors is free exercise, healthy fun, uplifting to look at and educational. What’s not to like?

But we just don’t think about it enough.

The health and doing-things-together benefits of getting outside isn’t just for Christmas and could be a public health campaign.

Yesterday’s post-Christmas missive from public health officials was that we all needed to cut the amount of food we eat to 1,800 calories a day to control our sizes.

The average adult eats 300 calories more than they need each day and if we don’t burn it off, we all know what happens.

Girths spread, we feel lumpen and losing weight is hard and takes concerted effort and a focused mindset.

Public Health England (PHE) guidelines to be issued in the New Year recommend we eat 400 calories for breakfast and 600 calories at lunch and dinner with 200 calories in snacks.

Portion sizes are getting bigger and we eat until we are stuffed.

If we got out and about more and reminded ourselves of the simple equation – eat less and move around more to lose weight, we wouldn’t need a nanny lecture from Public Health England. But we do need it.

I’ve got back to fighting weight this year by losing more than two stone by returning to my favourite support group, Slimming World.

But I have a sedentary job. My only exercise is walking the dog, which, now he’s nearly 11, isn’t exactly arduous.

On holiday earlier this month, we took bikes out, and I instantly felt better to be exercising in the open air.

New Year resolutions aren’t my thing but this year but the uplifting effect of a bracing seashore walk has prodded me into making a couple.

Two stone lighter on the scales and feeling healthy and happy, making the most of what is what is around us for free outside and peddling my way around Norfolk on a new bicycle is my target for 2018.

It fits perfectly with last year’s new membership of English Heritage, along with friends, so we can explore what else has made our counties great.

Wishing you all happy and healthy 2018.

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