Whether it’s an after-lunch saunter, a Christmassy tour or a hike in the countryside, here’s how to make walking part of your festivities and reap the fitness benefits.
Stroll round a garden
Join a guided three-mile walk and talk on Boxing Day at RHS Hyde Hall, near Chelmsford. There’s plenty to see even in the colder months as the clever garden design makes the most of colour, scent and form. You’re sure to come back with plenty of ideas for your own garden. Plus, the centre’s café is open from 9.30am if you fancy a pre-walk breakfast. Free for RHS members or £12.98pp. Starts at 11am on Boxing Day, no need to prebook. Visit rhs.org.uk/gardens/hyde-hall
Just 20 minutes of strolling (or even sitting) in nature is enough to significantly lower your levels of stress hormone cortisol, a study earlier this year revealed.
Walk in festive lights
Explore Dunham Massey, Cheshire, all illuminated for Christmas. The grounds are now packed with huge flowers, a glowing tunnel and glittering deer. Open from now until December 30. Garden entry £10pp. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/dunham-massey.
On a walk like this where there’s lots to stop and look at, you might think your pace isn’t fast enough to burn calories – but a varied speed walk burns up to 20 per cent more calories than a steady one, according to Ohio State University. Just make sure to pick up the pace in between slower sections.
Head to the woods
For the perfect blend of woodland and history, the Erddig Big Wood trail, Wrexham, is hard to beat. It’s only a mile-long, but packs in a secret meadow, archaeological sites, beech trees and wildlife including woodpeckers – plus it’s dog friendly. Entry costs £6.75 and also allows you to visit the house, visit nationaltrust.org.uk/erddig
An hour-long walk in the woods has been shown to provide cognitive benefits to people suffering from depression, according to US research.
Discover beach benefits
Calling all Poldark fans! Blow away the cobwebs with a blustery coastal walk
at Botallack, Cornwall. This one-mile circular route is part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, and home to choughs and wild flowers.
Find details at nationaltrust.org.uk/botallack
Listening to natural sounds – such as lapping waves on the shore – has been proven to help relax both body and mind, says the University of Sussex. The systems that control your ‘fight or flight’ response can be calmed by this type of sound.
Walk a lovely loch
A Scottish loch in winter sunshine is a beautiful sight and the route around Loch Morlich is particularly charming thanks to its forest and beach surroundings. The one-hour loop will show you snow-capped peaks and sculptures. Find out more at visitscotland.com.
Being in nature regularly has health benefits including a reduced risk of type two diabetes and heart disease. Being among trees in particular is beneficial as they emit chemicals that can help improve your immune response.