With all the planning, shopping and cooking and the huge anticipation leading up to Christmas, Dr Dan points out that it's no wonder that many of us succumb to the post-Christmas "blues" as things seem to settle back down into normal day to day life.
For Dr Dan, spending much more time at home in Suffolk is the perfect antidote to the post Christmas period. With Parliament still enjoying Christmas recess, Dr Dan certainly makes the most of his time here in Suffolk without the pressures of the daily routine. Most of us have eaten and drunk more than usual as we relaxed and enjoyed catching up with friends and family over Christmas. Indeed only yesterday new figures were announced confirming that a staggering 8 in every 10 adults aged between 40 and 60 in England are overweight, drink too much alcohol or get too little exercise.
So what better time to get motivated and kick start a healthier New Year than by getting out in the beautiful Suffolk countryside and enjoying all that is on offer right here on our doorsteps.
At this time of year, with magazine and television advertisements encouraging us to make commitments which many will struggle to maintain, it's all too easy to be lured into costly gym memberships and expensive holidays or leisure activities but walking is something which we can all enjoy with minimum or no cost involved, no specialist equipment required and the opportunity to meet new and likeminded people. Walking isn't competitive, yet it brings with it a raft of recognised health benefits, not to mention being affordable and accessible to all.
Simple things can quickly add up – taking the stairs instead of the lift, or walking instead of hopping in the car for short journeys. Dr Dan is lucky that he has two dogs to exercise and they don't let him forget that he needs to get outdoors into the fresh air every day but for many, it's easy to become complacent and to not make the effort. Walking to fulfil the recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise every week can make a huge difference – it's estimated that it could save up to 37,000 lives every year and could also lead to almost 300,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes.
Aside from the physical benefits, walking brings with it a whole range of other benefits. We feel more connected to our natural environment – for families with young children perhaps a competition for them to spot wildlife tracks or collect 10 different types of leaves might turn what they deem to be a dull activity in something far more engaging. When experiencing times of stress or anxiety, walking can help us to clear our heads and regain some order in our busy lives. It's the perfect tonic for a busy and hectic lifestyle, helping to fight depression and reduce anxiety and boosting our mood and psychological wellbeing.
Over the festive period, the annual Ramblers' Festival of Winter Walks, a series of free guided local walks offers something for everyone. This year the Festival runs from 17 December to 08 January and further information on the walks can be found at https://www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/
There are individual walks, group led walks and health walks, aimed at those with specific health needs. Aside from the health benefits of walking, there's also the social factor and many of the walks will include a visit to a local café.
Suffolk lends itself perfectly to walking, with plenty of easy terrain, but also more challenging routes for those who are more able. For year round information on walking, there is a huge range of information at www.discoversuffolk.org.uk
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