Many of us will almost certainly have over-indulged during the festive season and taken less exercise than usual. However, a good number of us will also be making resolutions to get fit in the New Year. Instead of hitting the gym or joining an exercise class in the village hall, however, why not get out and get active?
The benefits of the great outdoors include reducing blood pressure, keeping our lungs, heart and bones healthy and improving our mental health and wellbeing.
Perhaps we need an extra challenge rather than simply going for another walk. While most of us enjoy a good walk (members of the SHS probably more than most) what about trying out a different type of walking? Nordic walking, with poles, is brilliant exercise, working the upper body and giving a more complete workout. No wonder it is becoming increasingly popular with plenty of local walking groups.
Or perhaps explore a different area close to home. I live just outside of Dorking by Box Hill and most of my dog walks are around local fields, but I recently discovered lovely countryside walks just the other side of Dorking around Westcott. Or why not discover Surrey’s lesser-known villages? Betchworth, Godstone, Shere and Chiddingfold get more than enough visitors, so try exploring villages away from the tourist trail. Perhaps Holmbury St Mary, where EM Forster’s “A Room with a View” is supposedly based, or Outwood, with its grade 1 post mill, picturesque Bramley, or Seale with its hidden gem, the Manor Farm Craft Centre, housed in old farm buildings.
What else apart from walking? The Surrey Hills may be landlocked, but there are many opportunities to get close to water. Willing to give wild swimming a go? Try Divers Cove in Godstone, a former sand extraction site, or Buckland Lake, a 50-acre recreational lake near Reigate. Canoeing and paddleboarding are great fun and help to tone the upper body as well as offering a great opportunity to get close to wildlife.
Cycling is a great family activity and there are plenty of interesting cycle trails that do not involve the Box Hill loop. Check out the Cycling page of the AONB website for ideas. If cycling seems too strenuous e-cycling offers low-impact exercise along with an opportunity to enjoy the countryside at a comfortable pace. It’s possible to hire by the day or as a starting point just by the hour.
Volunteering is another way to stay active and contribute to conserving and protecting our countryside. Opportunities exist with many local organisations especially those concerned with environmental and wilding initiatives.
And for those who prefer to stay home, there is plenty to do in the garden even in January. Gardening benefits our well-being and gives a full body workout particularly when raking, digging or even clearing leaves. Finally for days when the weather really is too inclement to venture out, a spring-clean is not only good for your home but can boost your mood, burn calories and do wonders for your overall health.