Why a Boxing Day Walk Could Help Cure the Christmas Blues

We’re coming to the end of what has been the most difficult of years for many people. A year where beyond the physical health risks of Covid-19 we’ve also had our mental wellbeing challenged with work uncertainty, lockdowns, changing guidelines, as well as not seeing friends and family. Everyone will have had at least one moment this year where they’ve felt down and overwhelmed, and that is the important thing to remember - you’re not alone.

As we head into a very different festive period, one without Christmas parties and gatherings of loved ones, it remains as important as ever that we stay strong and do all we can to keep our heads clear with the hope that the Covid vaccinations bring on the horizon.

With normal Christmas routines being altered this year, it could be easy to slip into a mental slump. At the time of writing for many the rules are simply that you can meet one other household on Christmas day, and while that puts an end to the hope of any large family get-togethers - it does open the door for another great British tradition, the Boxing Day walk.

The benefit of outdoor exercise

The outdoors is the ultimate natural health solution. Not only will it help you work off any Christmas over-indulgence, fresh air and sunlight are a natural mood booster. With many major retailers closing on Boxing Day this year, it makes a Boxing Day walk the perfect opportunity to see family members that you’re unable to see on Christmas day (within Government and local tier guidelines of course). Here are just some of the reasons to get outdoors this Boxing Day:

The outdoors is a natural mood booster

Outdoor exercise is a known way to ward off SAD (seasonal affective disorder). During winter, we’re often guilty of not getting enough daylight into our days which means we suffer from a lack of Vitamin D. Time outdoors can boost the serotonin levels in your brain which directly impacts your mood, while exercise will boost your endorphin levels which is another mood boosting hormone. When people talk about blowing away the cobwebs, it often refers to blowing away some of the mental fog that can naturally make us feel down. Fresh air will help clear your mind. Earn those leftovers

Beyond the mental health benefits of time outside, adding in a little exercise over the Christmas break will help to break up our over indulgent eating. Did you know that it’ll take around a 40 minute walk to burn off a mince pie? With many of us often eating around 6000 calories on Christmas day taking into account Christmas dinner, alcohol and snacks, it makes sense to add in a little Christmas exercise to break up the indulgence.

Meeting others outdoors during Covid-19

One thing that has been mentioned a lot this year is the need for ventilation and airflow to slow the spread of the virus. This is the reason that people have been allowed to meet outdoors throughout as long as maintaining social distancing measures. While your family may not be able to visit you at home this Christmas, you can still meet to the rule of six outdoors in tiers 1, 2 and 3. It’s vital that you uphold social distancing measures, but this is much easier to do in open spaces such as parks and the countryside. The rule of six applies to the following places:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • allotments
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • outdoor sports courts and facilities
  • playgrounds

How to find local walking routes

If you’re not a regular walker, then it can be quite daunting to know where to walk, even locally. A great place to start is local parks and green spaces, but if you want to venture a little further then here are some great resources for walking routes:

  • Walking Apps: Apps such as OS Maps, Komoot, View Ranger and more are packed with walking routes to follow. These do rely on being able to read a map to some extent.
  • National Trust Website: The National Trust website is packed full of walking routes with easy to follow written directions over fabulous National Trust land. Head here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/walking
  • Countryfile Magazine: The Countryfile Magazine website features a section of easy to follow walking routes around the country. Head here: https://www.countryfile.com/go-outdoors/walks/
  • Local Websites: The best way to find local walks, is simply to Google it. Google ‘walks near…’ and fill in the gap with your local area. You’ll find plenty of helpful websites to choose from, with many walks giving you a degree of difficulty so that you’ll be able to find something to fit your experience level.

So pack a rucksack with a leftover turkey sandwich and a flask of tea and head outdoors with your loved ones this Boxing Day to raise a smile and boost your mood. Remember to pack your face mask and hand sanitiser and maintain social distancing to help stop the spread of the virus.

Be sure to check on the latest Government guidelines to ensure meeting others in outdoor spaces is allowed.

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