Taking steps to boost your health with the RSPB is only natural

Now tell us that your spirits wouldn't lift if you saw something like this? Take the Nordic walking

Now tell us that your spirits wouldn't lift if you saw something like this? Take the Nordic walking course at RSPB Strumpsahw Fen and you might see sights like this kingfisher - and get fit at the same time. Picture: Ben Andrew/RSPB - Credit: Archant

The great outdoors can not only do your soul good, it can improve your physical health, says Lee Cozens of the RSPB.

It's not often that we are granted a moment of complete clarity, but it happened to me this week.

Let me share it with you…

I recently watched the BBC programme How To Stay Young and it shot an arrow through my complacency. It showed that many of us, hidden beneath a more youthful exterior, have the physical health and fitness of a person many years older. The remedy? Nothing surprising: better diet, more regular and vigorous exercise, and always being open to new experiences. But my goodness, what a dramatic difference an upheld commitment to these changes can make. We can wipe years off our body age in a short amount of time. This was my moment of clarity number one!

Later, I began to find out more about being out in nature and the associated health benefits; my own personal passion. Physically being outdoors is scientifically proven to help lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular and respiratory health, while exposure to Vitamin D can benefit a whole host of other disorders.

The benefits to our mental and emotional well-being are even more striking. Anxiety levels are reduced, mental fatigue banished, and a sense of brightness and vitality restored. That crazy treadmill of negative mental rumination, often a forerunner to depression, can be interrupted and a more positive outlook can take its place. Imagine escape from your internal negative chatter. Moment of clarity number two!

So after my moments of clarity, what have I pledged to myself? For as many days as I can manage, I am going to get out among trees and wildlife and spend time walking, running and even digging the bike out of the garage. When I feel frazzled, I am going to honour my newly-enhanced knowledge and get out into the fresh air rather than instinctively crashing out on the sofa.

Most Read

Here at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen, we can help you bring these two exciting strands of better health together. By visiting Strumpshaw and places like it, we can guarantee that after a gentle stroll through our woodland, or hike down to the river, you will leave feeling refreshed with clearer thoughts and a sense of calm will take over your very being. We see it happen to our visitors every day. Throw in the chance sighting of a kingfisher or an otter and that wellbeing factor goes off the scale.

Now we can also offer that golden ticket of more vigorous exercise around our beautiful reserve. With our six-week Nordic Walking course, run by a friendly health professional, we can offer you the kind of health and fitness progression that is second to none. We have been thrilled to see so much physical improvement and general increase in happiness amongst the participants on previous courses here, and our Nordic walkers had great fun and made new friends on route.

Our Nordic Walking course can be accessed at all levels, so whatever your age, whatever your fitness level, exercising out in this magical setting can bring a wonderful new dimension to your life.

Don't delay! Commit to the happier, healthier you, now. You really won't regret it.

For more information about this six-week course which starts on Monday October 30, please visit our website rspb.org.uk/strumpshawfen or ring 01603 715191.