Wonders of Walking, ID Parade & Soil to Soul

Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 16th September 2017 Leaf_Para_DividerWonders of Walking

Over 6.3 million adults aged 40 to 60 do not achieve 10 minutes of continuous brisk walking over the course of a month and are missing out on important health benefits, according to a recent Public Health England (PHE) survey. Put another way – 4 out of 10 (41%) adults aged 40 to 60 in England walk less than 10 minutes continuously each month at a brisk pace.

Whichever way you say it, it’s not good!

The findings also reveal how lifestyles have changed over time, showing that people in the UK are 20% less active now than they were in the 1960s and on average walk 15 miles less a year than 2 decades ago.

They go on to report that the sedentary nature of modern, busy lives makes it difficult for many to find the time for enough exercise to benefit their health.  I don’t understand that at all. Surely because of the sedentary nature of modern life, it is more important to find the time to exercise and get out in the fresh air.

And to be honest, the exercise benefits of walking are just an added bonus; the real joy is in getting out in nature and seeing the wonders that are around us. We are so incredibly lucky living in Wales that no one has to go very far to enjoy beautiful scenery views and most importantly, fresh air.

People often ask why I walk (and run) as much as I do because I have a hard physical job which they perceive as providing enough exercise to keep me fit and healthy (or just tired!) but walking in the countryside is about so much more than keeping physically fit.  It has been proven it is exceptionally beneficial for depression and anxiety too with another study proving that even a short daily walk will lift your mood considerably.

Every weekend, my partner and I (and Yogi, of course), endeavor to do a substantial hill walk.  We usually cover 10 – 15 miles and it does us all the world of good.  Ideas are chatted through, issues resolved and new and beautiful places discovered.  But you don’t have to conquer a mountain to feel the benefits, even short regular walks will help improve your health and wellbeing and it’s all free! Hippocrates put it the most succinctly; “Walking is man’s best medicine.”

ID Parade
Bill Bailey

Bill Bailey once told me that he reckoned that if children are taught to identify trees and flowers that they are more likely to respect them and not damage them.  He pointed out that we are omitting to pass on this kind of knowledge, the type of knowledge our Nans and Grandads passed down to us.  Apparently most children are more likely to be able to recognise and identify a particular brand of product, like McDonalds and Nike than they were identify a tree or plant.

And sadly adults are not much better according to Gardener’s World.  Just one in 50 people were able to identify five tree varieties in a study, with only 5 per cent able to identify five common shrubs, and 34 per cent recognising five native wildflowers. 98 per cent failed to give all of the correct names when shown pictures of the various species.

The good news, is that its easy to remedy by simply investing in a few good pocket books that you can carry with you on a walk or take around the garden or park with you.  My favourites are the DK ‘What’s that…?’ range.  They do ‘What’s that bird?’, ‘ What’s that tree?’ and ‘What’s that flower?,  and are described as ‘the simplest ID guides ever.’

They are the perfect pocket guide for beginners but also great references for the more seasoned enthusiasts that are just suffering from menopausal memory loss, like me! I love them and carry them on most of our walks and the bird one lives by the kitchen window so I can ID any newcomers that visit. It’s never too late to learn!

Soil to Soul

Today (Sept 16th) is Organic September Saturday when various celebrations of all things organic will be held throughout the UK, organised by the Soil Association.

For example, Cearhys Organic Farm, at St Davids in Haverford West will be opening its doors to the public. There will be demonstrations of old machinery to cut and bind the wheat, as well as farm walks and opportunities buy organic veggies, enjoy farm walks, learn about it’s history and its organic way of farming.

And of course, September is national Organic Month. And it’s not too late to take part in Organic September by downloading a free starter kit, including exclusive discounts from top organic brands, tips, recipes and the pick of amazing events happening across Wales and the UK.

Visit www.soilassociation.org/organic-living/organic-september for more details. 

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