Scottish charity gives advice on walking and mental health after lockdown restrictions ease
WALKING in nature and embracing the outdoors are key to boosting wellbeing, says Scottish charity on Mental Health Awareness Week.
Throughout the last year, most of the population turned to nature and the outdoors as a coping mechanism during the pandemic1 and Paths for All is urging the public to keep this up as restrictions ease.
Walking in nature is accessible and easy, with most Scots benefiting from stunning natural environments close to home – with our towns, cities and rural areas having access to brilliant paths, parks and coastlines.
It comes after this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme focuses on nature, which the charity believes can hugely benefit our physical health and mental wellbeing.
A report published by NatureScot2 found an increased proportion of the population reported health and wellbeing benefits from time spent outdoors connecting with nature during lockdown.
70% of respondents indicated that outdoor activities and engaging with nature between August -September 2020 helped them to de-stress, relax and unwind – up from 63% in March to May2.
Picking litter on walks, enjoying watching and listening to birds, or spotting signs of spring such as bluebells appearing are all simple ways we can make a connection with nature.
Paths for All offers a wide range of online resources to help people understand how to connect and enjoy nature whilst offering a variety of ideas, activities and information designed to motivate people of all ages to get outdoors.
Frances Bain, Walking for Health Manager at Paths for All said: “Giving our body and mind a boost, especially after the past year, is so important and right now is the perfect time to do it.
“Not only is May National Walking Month, but we’re also really pleased to see that this week’s Mental Health Awareness Week has such a focus on the benefits of connecting with nature.
“Walking outdoors is a fantastic way to boost your mood, clear your head and benefit from fresh air in local parks and greenspaces.
“You can even take it a step further by really noticing nature when you’re out walking, such as listening to bird song, immersing yourself in a woodland walk or looking after nature by doing a spot of litter picking.
“The power of walking and the positive effects it can have on people’s wellbeing are endless and we believe that everyday walking is key to a healthier, happier Scotland.”
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week is running from 10-16 May 2021 with this year’s theme being nature.
The charity has a variety of podcasts available on most popular podcast players or its website, which have been designed to help people unwind while walking, by interacting with nature.
A guided walking meditation track, Mind to Walk, is also free for people to listen to on their walks, narrated by DJ and presented Edith Bowman. The 25-minute-long track acts as a guided meditation, helping listeners relax their minds and connect to their surroundings as they take a walk.
Paths for All believes regular walking is key to leading a happy and healthy life, and it’s even more important for people to continue enjoying safe walks where it is safe and appropriate to do so with the huge array of associated benefits.
Paths for All’s aim is to significantly increase the number of people who choose to walk in Scotland, whether it’s walking for leisure or walking to work, school or to the shops.
For more information on Paths for All, visit: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk
1 https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/research/coronavirus-mental-health-pandemic 2 https://www.nature.scot/sites/default/files/2020-12/Publication%202020%20-%20NatureScot%20Research%20Report%201255%20-%20Enjoying%20the%20outdoors-%20Monitoring%20the%20impact%20of%20Coronavirus%20and%20social%20distancing%20-%20Wave%202%20survey%20results_0.pdf
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