Health & The Environment
The health benefits of walking in the countryside are massive – while the environmental costs are minimal. It’s a winning combination.
The health benefits of walking are almost too many to name, but here are some examples (provided by the Mayo Clinic). Walking regularly can:
Help you to maintain a healthy weight;
Help with the management of conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes;
Strengthen bones and muscles;
Improve balance and coordination.
Other benefits include better sleep (itself a key to better health), improving breathing, reducing your risk of Alzheimers and slow mental decline generally. The Arthritis Foundation lists 12 benefits of walking here.
But mental health is also an important part of the equation and here the evidence is just as compelling. Walking can help reduce anxiety, depressing and negative moods. It can reduce stress, improve self-esteem and increase productivity. That is particularly true of walking in the countryside, where the connection to nature adds an additional element to the mental well-being.
If walking were a drug, it would be hailed as the wonder of the age. It is something that improves physical health, while its main side effect is improving mental health. Sadly, because it is free, and doesn’t require medical attention, it isn’t given the priority it deserves.
If you are new to walking, and want advice on getting started, check out the NHS website.
Walking in the countryside is good for your physical and mental health - and also pretty cheap. It is also one of the most environmentally friendly activities you could do.
If you choose to walk by car you immediately reduce your options to circular walks (unless you want to get involved in complex arrangements with one of the party not taking part in the walk at all and driving to the finish to pick you up). You also have the hassle of finding somewhere to park.
Walking by rail is both simpler and more environmentally friendly. The vast majority of walking trips will be outside peak hours - either at weekends, or on trains that head out of the city in the morning and back into it in the evening. This means that the additional CO2 that you consume will be negligible.
In contrast, not only does driving to the beginning of the walk add to CO2, it also causes air and noise pollution in the very countryside where you are walking. So by driving to a walk you are directly damaging the very environment that you are going to experience.
In summary, walking in the countryside is incredibly good for you, and is very environmentally friendly.
What’s not to like?